Wonders of the Sea 3D
Jean-Michel Cousteau & Jean-Jacques Mantello, dir
Jean-Jacques Mantello, Francois Mantello & David Chocron, script
Narrated by Arnold Schwarzenegger, Celine, Fabien & Jean-Michel Cousteau
It’s been more than 60 years since Jacques Cousteau released his Oscar winning first film Le monde du silence, which fascinated audiences around the world with its depiction of the exciting underwater environment of the Mediterranean Sea, the Persian Gulf and the Indian Ocean. The doc led Cousteau into a lifetime of filmmaking and underwater exploration while making pleas for ecological awareness that have persuaded millions of people, but not enough governments to make the world a healthier place.
Le monde du silence also spurred generations of Cousteaus to join the “family business,” of nature filmmaking and ecological activism. Wonders of the Sea 3D is the latest film by Cousteau’s oldest son Jean-Michel, who brings his children Celine and Fabien on board his ship as he travels from Fiji, to the Sea of Cortez, Catalina and the Bahamas in a heartfelt celebration of the gorgeous creatures who live beneath the sea. Working with another family, the Mantello brothers, who are experts in filming underwater in 3D, the Cousteaus have fashioned a beautiful looking film.
Adding to the luster of Wonders of the Sea 3D is Jean-Michel Cousteau’s friend Arnold Schwarzenegger, who executive produced, introduces and is the main narrator in the film. An eco-activist, Schwarzenegger is a welcome voice in the documentary, where he shares narration duties with Celine, Fabien and Jean-Michel Cousteau. Sadly, the weakest area in the film is the voice-over, which contributes to the doc’s slow pace by laboriously describing everything that the camera is showing us. At its worst, Wonders of the Sea can seem like the kind of didactic film that used to be shown in high schools to teach students science and geography.
Clearly, that’s not the intent of the film. The cinematography is wonderful throughout and so are the choices of underwater creatures that “star” in this doc. Viewers see 500 pound clams and “Christmas tree” creatures both of which survive on plankton. There are lobsters and all kinds of crustaceans—all shot in glorious colour and viewed in 3D.
Wonders of the Sea 3D is like a trip to the greatest aquarium in the world. The Cousteau family’s latest work is certainly not a world-changing documentary like Le monde du silence but it’s fun to enjoy its underwater journey.
Written by Marc Glassman
Adjunct Professor, Ryerson University
Director, Pages UnBound: the festival and series
Editor, POV Magazine
Editor, Montage Magazine
Film Critic, The New Classical FM
Film programmer, Planet in Focus
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