Saturday, January 30, 2021

Playing With Sharks (2021) Sundance 2021

"These camera men had these giant housings mad of metal and I had a stick"
- Valerie Taylor on the filming of BLUE WATER WHITE DEATH

Portrait of filmmaker, naturalist, conversationalist and shark expert Valerie Taylor who was instrumental in making us realize that sharks were not inherently dangerous.

This visually overwhelming film is going to rock your world. While not a perfect film, I'm going to be guessing that the film will be running for the Oscar  at an upcoming Academy Award ceremony.

Telling the story of Taylor's life in the sea, where she began as an exert spear fisher it follow her on through the meeting of her husband with whom she began to make films and work to protect the sharks and the other sea animals. We also get large sections on BLUE WATER WHITE DEATH and JAWS which she helped to film.

The images, made up of the footage shot over six decades of filming is amazing. Because Taylor was the only woman doing what she did there is plenty of footage beyond what she shot to delight the eyes. 
I was really blown away by the beauty of much of it. 

And there is sadness as well. Watching the footage of the spear fishing tournaments you become ill  at the senseless slaughter of so many creatures.  There is also sadness at realizing that the number of sharks in the footage in from the film BLLUE WATER WHITE DEATH in which Taylor appears and which she helped shoot, can never be repeated because the sharks are largely gone, having been hunted into near extinction.

Also sad is the section on JAWS which she and her husband went to thinking it would be a great tale never realizing that the fear the film generated was responsible for decreasing shark populations across the globe. She regrets having been part of the film as a result.

As much as I love the film, I do have to quibble with a couple of things. First the film rambles for much of it's running time. While this allows for some great footage to be seen, it results in the films other flaw which is the last half hour is much too rushed and over loaded as the film desperately tries to cove everything. While in no way fatal, the flaws keep the film from just being an all time classic. 

Quibbles aside it is however still an absolute must see.

This is ne to see sooner than later- and expect plenty of awards (The editing is some of the best I have ever seen in any film ever)

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