Though it is known that the majority of our planet is composed of water, we as human beings sometimes don’t understand how all encompassing it is and what lies within these relatively unknown, underwater worlds. One of the most intriguing yet mysterious aspects of the sea is the coral reefs. Coral provides such a majestic scenery and atmosphere to the ocean and all of the creatures that dwell within these environments. Netflix’s latest venture into the realm of documentaries, Chasing Coral, offers up an exploration into the world of coral reefs and the science behind their ecology in order to uncover the source of why certain coral reefs around the world are dying. Director Jeff Orlowski takes the lead on this film with a cast of scientists and photographers that includes Zachary Rago, Richard Vevers, Ruth Gates, Ove Hoegh-Guldberg, John Veron and Mark Eakin.
What this film so brilliantly does is provide such a very introspective look into these reefs as these scientists are studying them. With every meticulous look of a piece of decaying coral under a microscope to the various equipment failures they experience in order to record the reefs, we as the viewer truly feel the passion that these people have for what they are trying to accomplish with saving coral reefs and also bringing awareness to this growing issue. This display of passion also conveys a strong sense of urgency with this situation, which is crucial for a film like this to achieve.
Another highlight of this film, as previously discussed, is the visuals overall. Orlowski is able to masterfully provide such intricate shots of these reefs that one can’t help but feel mesmerized. At certain points in the film, the vibrancy of colors that is shown within the reefs close up almost makes you feel as if you were peering through a kaleidoscope. Every frame of this movie that exposes a dead reef compared to one that is still alive is astounding due to the stark difference between the two — from one being vibrant and gorgeous to the other being barren and lifeless. Witnessing these coral reefs that have died is so haunting and one can’t help but feel the very same anguish that is featured by some of these scientists who are diving underwater to view the reefs, such as Rago. Once the end of the film came, I felt so emotionally invested in this apparent mission that these scientists were on to show mankind that every bit of our environment matters in such a big way whether or not we can see it every day and must do our part to protect these extraordinary ecosystems.
Rating: 5 out of 5
Beyond the captivating visuals, this film is a literal masterpiece of a documentary and a wonderful gem added to Netflix’s arsenal of original content. The absolute conviction of these scientists is undeniable and you find yourself becoming more and more engrossed in their goal. In that same breath, it is also equally frustrating by the utter lack of concern for the reefs demonstrated by the individuals met by the scientists on Lizard Island who wouldn’t listen to them. It is because of how engaged a simple viewer gets that Chasing Coral is a must see for not only being a visual marvel but also offering audiences an interesting look into an almost other-worldly ecosystem that needs to be preserved for future generations to observe.