Saturday, October 8, 2011

Turtle (Brockway)

Tropic Sprockets by Ian Brockway

Turtle: The Incredible Journey

"Turtle: The Incredible Journey", a new documentary by Nick Stringer,follows the life  of a young Loggerhead from sand to the sea and back again. From the start, his existence is in peril. Sand crawling Stormtroopers in the form of crabs raid the beach for the young. Scores of turtles are propelled forward in a mad dash to the sea. Their young flippers prove as tough as Marine boots heading  for Normandy. By chance, our protagonist is spared. Death by pincer is not for him. Were it not for the somewhat cloying Disneyesque score, this scene could have been a baby brother to "Saving Private Ryan".  
The turtle is shot into the unforgiving ocean. With determination in the laborious process of locomotion he will either live or perish. 
Miranda Richardson does a fine job of narration, joining the ranks of Morgan Freeman and Jeremy Irons from other wildlife based films. Richardson gives a maternal flavor here. Voiceover artists from previous films have been either authoritarian as with Freeman or snickering in the case of Jeremy Irons. You can almost hear Richardson rooting for the little guy as we all do.
This is no provincial sea outing. The small Loggerhead within his tiny shell is as self contained and as exciting as anything you might see from the Apollo 13 space mission or an "Alien" scary space fest. The young turtle is a nautical Nostromo adrift in the ocean's innerspace.
Even though "Turtle" is a nature documentary, it doesn't have the ordinary instructional footage that you might have seen in grade school. This film has drama and depth as rich as any live action film.
When the Loggerhead finds sanctuary in a patch of Sargassum weed, it is a moment fit for Robinson Crusoe. The seaweed is host to a cast of motley characters that would please Jacques Cocteau and Jacques Cousteau alike. 
The triumph of "Turtle" is that we see this creature not as a mere animal, but as an existential being complete with courage and relentless drive. His quest to reproduce mimics our own human ambition: the struggle to leave something of ourselves behind, be it another generation or a  creative legacy. 
The need to carry on is universal.
There are painterly tableaux of the turtle's path as seen from Space--vivid yellows and blues--and you just might feel that Nature herself is a Fauvist, or that if by some leap of faith Intelligent Design does exist, it uses a Van Gogh MacPaint program. There are such dazzling pixellations of yellows on fire and frothy whites all used to great effect, creating a Gaiaist  "Starry Night".
When our Turtle returns thousands upon thousands of miles to lay its eggs on the beach, we see the black imposition of faceless buildings. Dread and disappointment has never been so  viscerally blank or menacing. Allen Ginsberg must have felt similarly in voicing his horror of Moloch.
Still, the turtle marches  forward. As an amphibious soldier of the marine realm, it is his duty, just as it becomes our duty to watch in awareness and pull our weight.
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