Of swans, seals, and whales

    NATURE: The relationship between humans and animals of the oceans threatened by climate change and ever more frequent violent storms.

    Robin Petré’s film From the Wild Sea is a poetic essay direct from the frontlines of the Anthropocene in which the animals – mute as they are – speak for themselves.

    With sparse dialogue – captured from participants in marine animal rescue charities in Ireland, the UK and the Netherlands, or radio weather warnings of violent Atlantic storms heard in the background – and no narrative voiceover, From the Wild Sea builds its painful story on the foundations of a simple on-screen statement from the European Environment Agency that opens the film.

    From the Wild Sea, a film by Robin Petré
    From the Wild Sea, a film by Robin Petré

    Under pressure

    Marine life is under pressure across Europe’s seas. The seas are perceived as the last wilderness. In reality, even remote marine areas are impacted by human activities. Contaminants and marine litter are among the key pressures. Sea level rise and the increased frequency of events add to the coastal squeeze.

    The film introduces us to its animal characters without further explanation: seals being coaxed out of cages to be released into the wild (we later learn this is on a beach at Courtown on the south-east coast of Ireland and hour’s drive from Dublin); swans being herded back into the waters of the Maas estuary in Rotterdam, cleaned up after a major oil spill contaminated hundreds; a dolphin being treated with first aid on a Cornish beach.

    Petré allows her story to unfold slowly in opening scenes shot largely in a seal sanctuary. The grey visual tone makes the seals there all but invisible inside sheds with low . . .

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    Nick Holdsworth
    Our regular critic. Journalist, writer, author. Works mostly from Central and Eastern Europe and Russia.
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