Blue has received wide critical acclaim for its uncompromising exposure of ocean pollution, and close insight to the personal challenges facing those on the front line. Featuring Lucas Handley, Madison Stewart, Valerie Taylor, Jennifer Lavers and Take3 CEO Tim Silverwood, Blue goes behind the scenes in the lives of those who have committed themselves fully to tackling modern marine crises.
There is a delicate balance struck by an effective documentary, where the prospect of solving a presented problem isn’t outweighed by sheer enormity of the task at hand. This is a narrow line of motivation upon which a filmmaker must tread. How to communicate potential consequences in a way that undeniably proves necessity of action, yet avoid a viewer response of “is this problem is too big to handle”?
Blue achieves this balance admirably with raw, harrowing - and at times frankly disturbing - footage combined with the positive attitudes of those who refuse to give up in the face of climate change. Cinematographically it is an impressive piece of work, with immersive underwater footage abundantly demonstrative of environmental problems to which many contribute but few attend. A varied and restrained soundtrack strengthens the drama on screen with an orchestral backbone of deep tones and undulating crescendos.
Not that the vision needs much accompaniment; watching scientists help juvenile birds regurgitate accidentally-ingested plastic garbage is about as dramatic as effective communication will permit.
It is inspiring to see Blue showcase honest Australian heroes combatting the persistence of marine waste throughout the planet, such that they consider it less a job and more a reason for being. Be it the senseless overfishing of fragile and already-depleted fish stocks, or garbage and ghost nets washing up on sensitive shorelines of foreign ecosystems, the challenges facing our ocean are many and interwoven. But where apathy may sometimes appear to abound, there are some who simply cannot fathom a world in which we continue to treat the ocean with disrespect. These are the people we meet in Blue, the people proving that the fight for conservation is far from over.
Take Madison Stewart for example, who has devoted her entire attention, her entire life to halting the rampant overfishing of sharks. She hopes Blue will make more people “offended that it’s happening right under our noses”. Or the relentless effort of biologist Jennifer Lavers, gently removing plastic debris from the stomachs of seabirds, one by one, to ensure their ability to fly a migration path thousands of kilometers long just months after their birth. Last month Jennifer established a horrifying new record of our careless obsession with plastic, with one 400g specimen’s stomach producing over 90 individual pieces of plastic.
Blue is a motivational insight into the reality of hands becoming dirty so the world can become clean. Whilst it may occasion you to grimace, and at times cause heart-wrenching despair at the realities of environmental mismanagement, this film is well worth your audience. In a world that sometimes seems full of heads buried in the sand, Blue proves that there are many fighting hard to turn the tide on climate change.
Perhaps it is Take3’s Tim Silverwood who sums up best the need for protection of marine ecology. “The ocean is downhill from everything”.