The Film: Sharkwater (2006)
The Principles: Rob Stewart(Narrator/Writer/Director), Paul Watson
This visually stunning documentary begs humanity to look at what is being done to sharks, and takes steps in attempting to stop a billion dollar industry that is destroying the ocean ecosystem. It is also the reason Captain Paul Watson of Whale Wars got arrested earlier this year.
Is It Good: Yes. I happened into the theater to see this years ago. As a shark admirer for most of my life (thanks Jaws), anything dealing with them generally interests me, so why not try this documentary out. I saw it in L.A. and I was the only one in the theater.
The documentary was mostly a one man show, with Rob Stewart doing the cinematography, the writing, the directing, the narrating and the hosting. The biggest complaint is that at times his voice doesn’t have a lot of excitement and drones a little. That is me nitpicking, as the rest is outstanding. The cinematography is one hundred percent stunning. Whether filming schooling hammerheads during the nice beginning of the movie, or capturing the Whale Wars like middle section. Using a variety of cameras and image quality also helps keep the story lively and exciting.
The documentary is split up into basically 3 sections, the calm plea to understand the beauty and need for sharks, the battle against illegal fisherman with Paul Watson and the last section about what we are doing to our ocean ecology by not doing anything to protect sharks. All three sections are engaging, feature a lot of nature shots and a lot of shots of sharks being slaughtered.
Stewart mixed stock footage in with his stuff at times to give narration from elsewhere. Some sound like after school specials (the humans are smarter than sharks one is hilarious) while others are taken from news footage and much more serious broadcasts. Some of the most beautifully filmed schools of hammerheads I have ever seen appear early into the film, and some playful Caribbean sharks show up sharing screen time with our underwater host.
This is by no means a Discovery Channel production (see my bottom paragraph), and we don’t have sharks killing things and shark victims telling us how dangerous they are. We have facts, such as soda pop vending machines kill more people per year than sharks. The worlds shark population has decreased over 90% in the past 2 decades. Plankton are involved with reducing 70% of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. Sharks are responsible for feeding upon the plankton eaters. These facts are scary amongst themselves, but they do not involve a bloody shark.
Is It Worth A Look: It is. I wish it had a lot more support than it does. There is not a Greenpeace program that protects sharks, and they are an essential part of our existence. This film removes a lot of the layers that portray sharks as bad, and shows them for the important species that they are.
The underwater cinematography is as good as anything I have seen (including Disney’s Oceans), and the middle part plays out like a modified stand alone episode of Whale Wars. When I had seen this, I had not heard of Whale Wars or Paul Watson, and I was amazed that this boat showed up looking for a battle to stop the illegal fishing. I am now fully aware of the show, but nowhere in the movie do they do anything to bring attention to it. The whole arrest procedure shows up in the movie, from start to the eventual fleeing of Watson and crew. It is a wonderful middle section filled with political corruption, deceit, mafia and illegal trafficking. How does that not improve the quality of a documentary?
**This is an aside rant on the doc I was originally going to put up here. I am always somewhat hesitant on documentaries that involve sharks due to the condition some of them leave sharks in after they are done (Anything involving a douche that has done a lot of tv who is named Andre Hartman). I had the pleasure of filming Great Whites off the Isle of Guadelupe, Mexico in 2004, shortly after a show wrapped filming and saw the hideous scars that every single shark there had on them from the filming of the discovery channel show (Shark Week Season 18: Great White Shark Uncaged ), where the show sent a bikini clad hottie that had no reason being there swimming after great whites outside a cage, and when one got behind her they immediately started stabbing the endangered specimen to keep it away from the purposely place bait.
Paul Watson was arrested and held in Germany in May 2012 based on the events in this film. I saw many articles detailing his arrest, and that the charges were involving a boat named the Varadero and the Costa Rican government, but I have never seen this movie mentioned in connection, though the entire thing was filmed within.
Paul Watson skipped bail in Germany in late July 2012. He did so because he thinks he won’t receive a fair trial in Costa Rica or Japan who also tried to extradite him.
Cinematic Soulmates: Blue Water White Death, Inconvenient Truth, Whale Wars, Oceans