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Oceans: “And God Saw That It Was Good”

Creation care is becoming a bona fide Adventist value, judging by a spate of articles in Adventist media outlets. It’s about time! Adventists, from local pastors all the way to General Conference president Jan Paulsen, have gone on the record in favor of combining beliefs about creation with environmental stewardship.
As creation care comes more clearly to the fore, people will be searching for more conservation conversation starters. Disneynature’s second motion picture, Oceans, tops the list for sure. Although Oceans is not explicitly a movie about conservation, its stunning scenery and documentation give a million fascinating reasons that conservation matters.
The film takes viewers on a journey through the brilliant underwater world of Earth’s oceans. If Disneynature’s first film, Earth, came across as a repackaged, big-screen version of the BBC Planet Earth series, Oceans scores points for its unique footage. For sure, it includes some now-familiar scenes of great white sharks leaping out of the water to catch seal meals, penguins toddling and slipping across ice fields, and the humpback whale mother and calf migrating across open seas. However, Oceans includes reels of seldom-seen scenes. A diver swims alongside a great white shark. A horde of thousands upon thousands of king crabs do battle on the ocean floor. Even chuckle-worthy flatulent sea lions lounging on the beach!
What French filmmakers Jacques Perrin and Jacques Cluzaud capture on film looks like flippered, finned, floating and even flying poetry in motion. It reminds us that nature is full of divine beauty. Watch out, though, because that beauty is fragile. A few glimpses of human-caused destruction (nothing on the scale of the Gulf Coast disaster) strike a temporary somber tone. But the movie is not morose. It’s majestic! That’s why those looking for a place to start discussions about Creation and its care should start with this film.
For me, the only two downsides were the lack of overall narrative and Pierce Brosnan. Disneynature’s Earth followed the lives of animal families, woven together with vignettes of all sorts of critters. Oceans is only vignettes. It does not allow us to bond with the film’s main characters because there aren’t any. Or maybe they are all main characters. Either way, I found it harder to be drawn into the lives of any of the underwater animals. As for narration, Pierce Brosnan should stick to being a heartthrob or whatever he’s known for. When he spoke, he sounded mushy-mouthed, as though he had just been to a maxillofacial surgeon, or perhaps spent too long enjoying happy hour. His script, written by French authors like Winged Migration and March of the Penguins, at times didn’t sound quite right. It sounded, well, foreign if I may be pardoned for saying so.
Even in spite of Pierce Brosnan and a sometimes poor narrative, the film is one to see again and again. The images are amazing. An opening sequence in which marine iguanas swim through pounding surf, and then watch a rocket being launched is simply unforgettable.
Most of all, this film gives reasons not just to appreciate the oceans of the world, but to love them and their inhabitants. I left the film (both times) with the words of Genesis in my mind: “So God created the great creatures of the sea and every living and moving thing with which the water teems, according to their kinds, and every winged bird according to its kind. And God saw that it was good.”

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