Director: Karina Holden
Screenwriter: Karina Holden
Dr. Jennifer Lavers
Runtime: 70 mins.
Australian Release Date: 12 October 2017
Previewed at: Sony Pictures Theatrette, Sydney, on 8 September 2017.
Shot over a two-year period in Australia, Hawaii, Indonesia and the Philippines, Karina Holden’s feature-length documentary Blue is a harrowing exposé about the on-going mass pollution of the world’s oceans. It clearly shows that if we do not change our attitudes and habits, then we will be responsible for leaving an unsustainable legacy for future generations. If you view a satellite image of Earth, it is obvious that oceans take up a considerable area and provide much of the food consumed on the planet, so the concerns raised in the film are not ‘fake news’.
Statistics show the oceans are under assault from a variety of causes: tropical reefs’ healthy corals have diminished by half in the last 30 years due to warming, pollution and agricultural run-off; fish stocks, too, are down by 50% because of over-fishing and lack of marine reserves, and some shark species are facing extinction; there are more than 250,000 tonnes of plastic in the oceans and marine biologists and seabird specialists now maintain that seabirds’ bellies contain an alarming 90% indestructible waste. Plastic is a huge problem - an estimated 50 million plastic bags enter the world’s oceans regularly and the residual effect creates species losses, habitat destruction and mass pollution. Every piece of plastic ever manufactured still exists; it just gets smaller as it breaks down in the environment but never completely disappears.
These and other disturbing truths are revealed to us by seven ‘ocean guardians,’ each with a particular insight or area of expertise. There are interviews with the environmentalist and plastics campaigner Tim Silverwood, seabird specialist Dr. Jennifer Laver, shark activist Madison Stewart, and Far North Queensland ranger Philip Mango, supporting these facts. The veteran diver Valerie Taylor delivers a sobering speech about how ocean life is disappearing and the current generation will never see the wonderful sights and marine activity that she experienced, particularly in Australian waters, in the not so distant past.
The information conveyed is, quite frankly, alarming and yet it is delivered in a sober, calm, deliberative way. Director Holden opined that, “To tell this story, it was critical for the aesthetics of the film to be captivating. I wanted there to be beauty in the imagery, despite the subject. For words to be soothing, notwithstanding their weight. For the music to be understated, regardless of the drama. This allows the audience to discover their own emotions about what they are seeing, without leading them.” It was a wise decision because it draws the audience into the guardians’ worldview and helps to make their concerns ours.
Blue should be compulsory viewing but, as so often happens with documentaries covering the environment (such as Al Gore’s An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth To Power), those who should view this powerful documentary probably won’t. Without doubt this film is a real wake-up call and it sends a clear message to each and every one of us to pay attention and do something before it is too late and the world becomes a real-life set for the next Blade Runner movie!