‘My Octopus Teacher’ offers an intimacy with nature rarely seen


Amid the pandemic when many have already been isolated in their homes, the particular crowd-pleasing Netflix film “My Octopus Teacher” offers audiences eight arms to hold them — and a much-needed embrace. The production heightens the acquainted tropes of the nature-doc style with its emotional account of a rare bond made between man and cephalopod — in this case, Craig Foster, the South African filmmaker, and a female octopus he activities on his free dives to the freezing waters of the kelp forest in the Cape associated with Storms, outside Cape City.

The movie, an Oscar contender just for documentary feature, offers something unique in the experience of the directors, James Reed, the longtime nature documentarian, and Pippa Ehrlich, a Shawl Town science journalist using a marine conservation focus.

“It was the most incredible footage I’d seen of anything like it just before, ” said the U. K. -based Reed. “Most nature films are chance on a long lens in a great distance, and they’re great at getting you near to the animals, but it’s technology that takes you there, really, and I find that a bit impersonal. ” Foster, the film’s narrator and producer, shot most of its scenes themself with a small camera which he took with him upon daily excursions underwater. “It was all shot in normal speed, ” Reed continued, “so it got this natural, real, genuine feel to it. It sensed incredible that he got such close access and was seeing such intimate details of this animal’s life. ”

Those information were what gripped Wirklich. She was invited to assist with the project in 2017 after six months of dives with Foster, who was eager to shape a staggering volume of footage that he’d already collected into the saga of an amazing octopus. “There were stuff that I saw that made my mouth drop open, ” Ehrlich said. “There has been something about this creature which was so appealing and so surprising. ” In one of the film’s the majority of dramatic sequences, a shark attacks the octopus and bites off one of its arms. “You’re on the edge of your seat, ” she recalled. “When you as an editor or director are getting pumped up about the feelings that are coming out, then you definitely know you have a good tale. ”


Ehrlich, who also coedited the film, said she was faced with 23 terabytes of digital files, “a lot of this shot on small digital cameras, so you can imagine how many hours that translates to. ” As the process snapped into gear, however , it was clear how the focus could tighten on to pivotal moments between Create and the octopus, which was in the final year of the girl life cycle. The time frame promised a dynamic arc. “You go through all these archetypal experiences, ” Ehrlich mentioned. “All these things being mirrored back to us through this particular octopus. ”

The story benefits greatly through Foster’s rigorous daily dives, which increased the odds of having interesting details, and the great timing involved in bringing in an expert cameraman later into the endeavor, his friend Roger Horrocks. When the octopus is again threatened by a shark, the men capture a thrilling run after scene.

“It is just absolutely mind-blowing exactly how she outwits the shark, ” Reed said. “You wouldn’t dare put it within your shooting script. It’s totally improbable. It’s a testament to a creature with her very own individual response to things. She’s been attacked, she’s discovered from it … and she found a way of getting around this brand new situation. ”

The bigger challenge for Ehrlich wasn’t compressing a year of octopus life but “50 years of a human existence, ” she said, nodding to the film’s opening area that introduces Foster, and the path that led your pet to his fateful aquatic encounter. “I probably re-cut that intro 50 occasions. ”

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Likewise, Reed applied himself to boosting the human aspect of the project, when this individual joined the work-in-progress. “We were getting her [the octopus] in a pure sort of way, in her own words if you like, so it produced sense to have Craig inform the story in his own words as well, ” he said. The underwater sequences are framed by Foster’s reactions to this transformative experience at a crossroads of his lifestyle.

“We simply wanted to tell a really good tale and a really beautiful story about a different way of concerning the natural world, ” Ehrlich mentioned, “and that seems to genuinely have spoken to people. ” She was particularly happy about support from the natural-history globe and surprised by the film’s reception from mental-health recommends. “We’ve had psychologists email us and say they’re suggesting to their patients they watch this film whenever they have a hard time. ”