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Sunday, May 16, 2021

‘My Octopus Teacher’ Offers Commentary On Environmentalism, Humanity

The Academy Award-winning documentary explores the relationship between human and creature

The 93rd Academy Awards are set to take place tonight. And as per usual, viewers can expect to see some of their favorite films of the past year be honored via an extravagant and grandeur-ridden ceremony. While there are a number of remarkable projects worth your watch this year (we’re looking at you Nomadland and Minari), one particular documentary has garnered the admiration of critics, film connoisseurs, and otherwise uninterested Oscar viewers, alike—”My Octopus Teacher.”

“My Octopus Teacher” tells the endearing story of a diver (Craig Foster) on a mission for redemption, who—while on his journey towards self-discovery—befriends an enchanting female octopus. After their first few encounters in the Atlantic Ocean, Foster decides to return to the kelp forests of False Bay every day for over a year. What follows—and what is beautifully captured by director Pippa Ehrlich—is the blossoming relationship between a man and a wild creature.

The film boasts a 100% rating on Rotten Tomatoes, and has enjoyed a busy award season so far—most recently winning the BAFTA Award for best documentary, and is now regarded as the front-runner to take home the Oscar for best documentary tonight.

For a project that wasn’t originally championed as an Oscar contender by Netflix, it’s quite telling that the documentary now stands to take home the golden statuette tonight. Perhaps, more than anything, it’s a greater reflection of how well-executed storytelling can inspire authentic audience connection—particularly when it highlights a greater narrative of how all beings on this planet are interconnected.

Sure, viewers of the documentary were treated to deep-dive glimpses of Cape Town’s magical and complex underwater landscape—complete with thick kelp forests, camouflaging sea floor snails, and the occasional antagonistic pyjama shark.

They were granted unique and otherwise unattainable access that showcased some of the most hidden corners of the world—many of which seemed even more otherworldly in an age of lockdowns and stay-at-home orders. But more than anything, they were offered a reminder of the delicate balance that’s struck each day within our world’s eco-system.

“My Octopus Teacher” tells a greater story about the way that humans exist on this Earth, and what their relationship can—or rather—should be with the planet’s other inhabitants. The documentary, at its core, is a captivating tale of humanity that urges viewers to redefine their existence on this Earth—keeping in mind that we are simply supporting characters in a much more expansive world and plot. And we must do all that we can to ensure that it’s protected—not only for the benefit of future generations, but for the well-being of our tiniest, quirkiest friends in the wild too.

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