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Susan Granger's review of 'Journey to the South Pacific'

Published 11:57 am, Friday, July 4, 2014
  • Our film critic, Susan Granger, reviews "Journey to the South Pacific." Photo: Contributed Photo, Contributed / New Canaan News Contributed
    Our film critic, Susan Granger, reviews "Journey to the South Pacific." Photo: Contributed Photo, Contributed

 

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This may be your first -- and only chance -- to visit the remote West Papua islands of Indonesia, where the Indian Ocean mingles with the Pacific. Join an intrepid 13-year-old named Jawi from the tiny village of Sawinggrai on the island of Gam for a two-month trip aboard the Kalabia, a fishing trawler-turned-floating school, to learn about the archipelago and how to preserve the mangrove-studded coral reef that surrounds his home.

Narrated by Cate Blanchett, Jawi's adventure begins at home, where he and his young friends dive on a daily basis, gauging the tide and currents, while noting the disappearance of the big fish that used to frequent their reefs, acknowledging, "There's wisdom in the old ways." That's why he is chosen to take this voyage of discovery, so he can learn how other islanders have reversed the consequences of over fishing and polluting their wondrous aquatic world and, in turn, pass that information onto another generation who will serve as conservators of their South Pacific paradise.

Writer/director/editor Stephen Judson ("Everest") works with director Greg MacGillivray ("The Living Sea," "Dolphins"), who specializes in these big-format nature films. Cinematographer Howard Hall's lyrical underwater photography surpasses anything done before, punctuated by Steve Wood's guitar-based musical score. The vibrant seascape teems with an estimated 2,000 species of marine life, including spawning anchovies, tiny sea horses, undulating manta rays and endangered giant leatherback turtles that lay eggs in the sand. But it's Jawi who propels the most exciting sequence when he voices his fear and overcomes it, gamely swimming with a 40-foot-long spotted whale shark.

On the Granger Movie Gauge of 1 to 10, "Journey to the South Pacific" is a spectacular 7.

In a two-fer, visitors to the Maritime Aquarium at Norwalk can also visit a lush aviary and feed sweet nectar to 50 free-flying "Lorikeets," which are dazzling, medium-sized parrots native to the rainforests and woodlands of the South Pacific.

For more information about IMAX times and Lorikeet

visits, call 203-852-0700 or log onto www.maritimeaquarium.org.