“For some reason, we haven’t been able to get it through our heads that the ocean keeps us alive — it is a life support system for every person on this planet,” explains Sylvia Earle, a National Geographic Explorer with seven-plus decades of oceanic adventure under her belt and nearly just as many as a no-nonsense advocate for the health of the world’s waters. “But there is hope,” she adds defiantly. “It is not too late; but we have to act now.”
That’s the overarching message of Mission Blue, a documentary by directors Robert Nixon and Fisher Stevens that recounts Earle’s remarkable life while hammering viewers over the head with the dangerously dilapidated state of the seas. Hoping to rekindle the ocean-conscious magic that Jacques Cousteau cultivated years ago, Mission Blue educates and inspires by letting you tag along with a truly legendary water woman. “We are trying to lure people into the sea, if you will, by letting them look over my shoulder,” explained Earle this week.
And what a look it is. The film is both visually and intellectually captivating as you gain insight into Earle’s life story as well as the various evils threatening our oceans and, in turn, our very existence. Even better, the movie offers a way forward while delivering plenty of reasons for positivity in the face of truly terrifying challenges. As an added bonus for us Santa Barbara viewers, the late, great Mike DeGruy, who was working on Mission Blue at the time of his death, makes a colorful cameo.
“We are right in the middle of this ferment understanding that the natural world keeps us alive,” said Earle. “It is time we repay the favor.”
Mission Blue kicks off SBIFF 2014 at the Arlington Theatre on Thursday, January 30, at 8 p.m.