Jean-Albert Lièvre brings a poetic documentary about the universe of whales that share the earth with man

Jean-Albert Lièvre brings a poetic documentary about the universe of whales that share the earth with man

Jean-Albert Lièvre, a director who has worked for years with Usuhaïa and Nicolas Hulot, is releasing a film about whales around the world. An extraordinary, poetic and comprehensive documentary, premiering this Wednesday at MonCiné Béziers. Interview.

How did the idea to make this movie about whales come about?

We recorded for Usuhaïa in Silver Bank. We heard them sing, but it didn’t go very well. We had no pictures. And then, as I was diving, I suddenly saw the bottom moving in front of me. It was actually a whale, I had never seen one so close, and it was so big. We exchanged looks, it was a strong emotional shock. Afterwards I did other things, but I kept this idea in mind. Until I came across Heathcote Williams’ song, that was exactly what I wanted to do: the cosmos and whales. Seen from space, the land is blue and is actually the territory of whales, not humans.

What is your message in this film?

Exactly this one: that there are societies on earth other than human, with their own intelligence, their own organizations… We share the planet with them. Whales are 35 million years old, they know their environment much better than we do. We only know 5% of the deep sea floor. They have their own communication, their own navigation system. They are socially organized. We may have something to learn from them.

How did you shoot?

I’m not an expert on the underwater world. I wanted there to be a closeness, to find that emotion of exchange of glances and distance that drones make possible. I wanted this film to be a visual shock, to make the whale look very small on land, but also in real size on the screen. That’s why I immediately wanted a feature film. That the sound is impressive, that you feel underwater with them. The sound was mixed in Atmos.

We recorded during Covid. The disadvantage is that some territories were completely closed like Asia, but where we could film we were alone, without tourists. We shot in Mexico for three seasons, in Tahiti with two crews. We did it in a very small team with as many locals as possible who dived and took pictures there. Two or three of us came from Paris at most, with external equipment and lenses. This allowed us to keep a very small budget: €2 million when Ocean made 100. Where we couldn’t, I worked with filmmakers I knew and sent stories to – very precise boards. We did a lot of snorkeling or shooting with a rebreather without bubbles.

What is the importance of whales on earth?

It is an umbrella species. An ecological pump at the bottom of the ocean, vital to the entire system. They play a role in the climate with the phytoplankton they feed on. They enable greater oxygen production than forests. They regulate the earth’s balance.

Besides his notoriety, what does Jean Dujardin bring to the film?

He was worried, he was swimming with sperm whales. His brother co-produced the film, he gave his consent in principle to do the voice. And he gave his final consent when he saw the finished film with my voice. He liked the movie. His voice, very calm, brings a plus, an additional emotion. He speaks for the whales, says Ja.

And why the partnership with Project Ocean Rescue?

Jean Dujardin was a bit of a godfather. He offered to do something with them. Plastic, in the 30 years I’ve been shooting everywhere, I’ve seen the earth take care of it. That’s a huge problem. It has to stop. Picking is good, but it must be banned.

Do you still remain optimistic?

That. Because they are cycles. When plastic appeared, it was almost an environmental blessing. Like a car at the start. Each time we take a step forward and then back. Our technological human society is in adolescence. We will make a lot of mistakes, it will take time, there will be a lot of damage, but the terrain is difficult. So, yes, I’m an optimist. A demographic balance must be found. And take action. A moratorium on whales allows their population to increase again for some. Going well.

Guardians of the Planet by Jean-Albert Lièvre, narrated by Jean Dujardin, national edition February 22, 2023. The impactful campaign allows viewers to go further thanks to educational and practical resources. www.gardiennesdelaplanè

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