The Films of Jean Painlevé

Last night I watched some of “Science Is Fiction”, a series of films by Jean Painlevé, a film director and connoisseur of underwater fauna. Short films such as How Some Jellyfish Are Born and The Love Life of the Octopus feature on the DVD. The above photo is Jean ready for action with his special underwater camera and diving mask! The films were sometimes weird but very captivating at the same time, with dramatic sound effects and music to go alongside the visual. The narration was in French with subtitles and was quite comical in places. I think Jean opens up an alien-like underwater world for the viewer, because you get to see creatures behaving in strange ways or actually being born. This is a description of the storyline of How Some Jellyfish Are Born:

This animal reproduces by buds, which we watch close up in time-lapse images. In another kind of jellyfish, the buds grow inside then live outside for a few days until being on their own. Another produces eggs, sometimes self-fertilized. Some single eggs become buds with colonies. Another clump gathered at low tide consists of filaments of a colony – plumes with poison ends.

For me, I was actually less interested in what was going on but more in the imagery and shapes and colours on the screen. It was unlike other nature/science films I had seen before.

Image result for jean painleve

Image result for jean painleve

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