The ocean is a great unknown; a magical world beneath us with creatures we couldn’t even imagine; its glowing, colorful, peaceful, infinite. Films like Finding Nemo show us the beautiful ecosystems filled with countless different types of fish. It’s not difficult to get stunning visuals of the ocean’s beauty. Chasing Coral, a Netflix original documentary, goes a step further and shows us something far less talked about: the impact of climate change on the ocean and the mass death of coral reefs around the globe.
Chasing Coral follows Richard Vevers, CEO of The Ocean Agency, and Zackery Rago, a self-proclaimed coral nerd, on their mission to produce footage of coral reefs bleaching, and eventually dying. The film does a good job of helping the audience to understand coral as a species, and how vital it is for ecosystems in the ocean. The science, and even the camera engineering, is accessible and absorbing, allowing viewers to leave the film feeling knowledgeable.
While it is becoming common in the indie-documentary world, the ‘chase’ set-up creates a heightened attachment to the project. Rather than just seeing the final product, we see it from its birth and understand the labor involved in finding healthy coral and watching it slowly die off. When the film reveals the footage they have been hunting for, it is overwhelmingly moving. The score of the film is a melancholy piano that lingers to jerk tears, and it does its job well. The visuals really are indescribable. They are so breathtaking, especially after learning about what is occurring biologically to the coral; we are essentially seeing massive graveyards. It is terrifying and heartbreaking.
What amazed me most about Chasing Coral was the innovation that the film both uses and displays. It offers a unique perspective of ‘marketing-meets-science’, and shows us just how hard it is to get people to care about an issue, and the way that marketing is vital to do so. Towards the end of the film, we get to see the use of virtual reality technology and how it is allowing people across the country to dive into the ocean and learn about climate change interactively. Before I even had time to dry the tears from my cheeks, I was feeling uplifted and hopeful. The damage we have done is irreparable, but there is still coral left to be saved, and that’s what matters.
I highly, highly, recommend Chasing Coral. It is a must see documentary that should have been on my list. Learn more here and donate here to get involved in the Chasing Coral Campaign. You can even host a screening of the film!