Chasing Coral

Coral reefs are the nursery for all life in the oceans, a remarkable ecosystem that sustains us. Yet with carbon emissions warming the seas, a phenomenon called “coral bleaching”—a sign of mass coral death—has been accelerating around the world, and the public has no idea of the scale or implication of the catastrophe silently raging underwater.

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  • ★★★★½ review by kyle97 on Letterboxd

    This is very powerful. The people who worked so hard to put together this documentary did a wonderful job at raising awareness of the impact of global warming on coral reefs. Chasing Coral is informative and persuasive at the same time. It's brilliantly constructed and powerfully told. The filmmakers managed to capture the beauty of the sea and the shocking truth about a massive coral bleaching event that's already become a nightmare for not just marine life but humans as well. Make sure you sit through the entire end credits too.

  • ★★★½ review by Scott AA Wilson on Letterboxd

    "Do we need forests? Do we need trees? Do we need coral? Or do we just sort of live in the ashes of all that?"

    The more aggressive documentaries about nature don't do it for me. The increasing ferocity of storms, rising sea levels, the destruction that's ahead. That's all well and scary, but it's also bleak to such an extent that I feel numb to it. So we're all gonna drown, tell me something I don't know. It's more than we deserve.

    Chasing Coral isn't angry, it's just disappointed. What a weird phenomenon for this brightly coloured jewel of the sea to bleach en masse over the last few decades having never done so before. It doesn't take long to work out that the cause is rising sea temperatures.

    Rather than show violent scenes of Mother Earth retaliating against her disrespectful inhabitants, Chasing Coral is like that part of the Oscars where we remember everyone we lost over the last 12 months. It's a feature length documentary of our world dying.

    The visual work here is astounding. Almost immediately you learn to associate whiteness with death. They try to find where this is happening, then they show you what coral should look like, and they humanise the coral too. They show that it's alive, and knowing that it's alive makes its death all the more upsetting.

    The point that got me was when the corals begin to glow. Some corals do glow, and in shallow waters it's often the tips, the parts closest to the sun. It acts as a sunscreen. Here, dying, the entire coral glows like a beacon signalling the last throes of life. Covering itself in its own sunscreen, it's a mostly futile effort to ward off the heat. It's a dramatic death, demanding attention.

    As with most documentaries of this ilk, it ends on a positive note. We can change! Otherwise, this would be one bleak watch. It works best that way, though. It's a documentary of our home dying, and the cause spreads like a self-inflicted cancer.

    A lot of these films focus on the human impact, of how more powerful storms will wash us all away. Maybe it's that selfish humanity that was lost on me - don't do the crime if you can't do the time. But this is about what's happening around us, how it's fighting to survive, and how it's losing. And that worked for me.

    If you'd told me two hours ago I'd cry over a documentary about coral I would have laughed you right into the sea. But those panoramic shots of once bustling waters filled with life and colour now dead and pale are worth crying over.

  • ★★★★½ review by soupydoupyy on Letterboxd

    When I logged into Netflix the other day an ad started playing showing the most beautiful underwater photography and I knew I had to watch it. So I eventually pressed play and, yes, it was beautiful.

    In the beginning.

    I admit I was very unaware of the current coral bleaching going on around the world due to warmer ocean temperatures. Our colorful vibrant coral, the animal that cleans our ocean and provides homes for fish, are losing their color and turning completely white as they are reduced to their skeletal frame.

    The doc becomes very sad as you see the filmmakers and scientists spend so much time with the coral, dedicating their every day to researching them, just to see them die a little more each day.

    It's one of the many evidences of climate change and I hope more people click play on this doc because it's scary to see our world changing so fast. 29% pf the Great Barrier Reef died out in just the year 2016 alone. And it's going to get worse.

    A MUST WATCH documentary.

  • ★★★★★ review by rachel on Letterboxd

    Never thought that a documentary about coral reefs could make me cry this much, but here we are. This was beautifully made, it was emotional and touching yet still educational and informative and interesting and it's so important for more people to see this.

    It's heartbreaking to realise how much danger coral reefs are in due to climate change - I never knew even half the scale of the destruction that's going on in these magnificent ecosystems. And to think of how crucial coral reefs are to life in the ocean as well as on land... As someone who's considering going into marine biology, this is incredibly depressing yet also an urgent call to action and I wonder if some day I can really make a change?

    Please go and watch this! I highly recommend it.

  • ★★★★★ review by Siân on Letterboxd

    What an absolutely gorgeous film. I've never seen ocean cinematography quite like this (but I'm not surprised considering how gorgeous Chasing Ice is). The doc manages to be informative, urgent, and even fun at times. This is thanks to the incredibly passionate team behind the project, including self-proclaimed coral nerd, Zack. I want to marry him, like I'm sure every other person in the audience did. Despite the urgency and general hopelessness (it DOES document the death of corals, after all), Chasing Coral is imbued with a sense of hope and a call to action.

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