Lesley Chilcott’s documentary Watson is not a Sherlock Holmes adventure, but is just as exciting and mysterious as you’d expect one to be. Instead, Chilcott is focusing on a man named Paul Waltson who has spent over four decades fearlessly protecting sea life. This film is as educational as it is entertaining–discussing the morals, laws, and consequences of humans interfering with the ocean. (CPG 5/5)
Review by Carlotta Plys-Garzotto
Growing up, Paul Watson’s abusive father would take him fishing. It made a huge impression on Watson that his father would catch tons of fish, then only keep the best ones and leave the rest, dead. That experience did not sit right with Watson; he says he always saw fish the same as any other animal. In his free time as a child he enjoyed swimming in the river, he says he spent an entire summer with a group of beavers. These experiences are what led to Watson dedicating his life toprotecting the animals of the sea.
Watson went on to study sea life, he notes how whales in particular are social and intelligent creatures. Whales have a whole extra cortex of the brain, that no other mammal has, that is all for thinking and emotion. Beyond that, the ecosystem of the ocean makes it possible for life on earth as we know it. Fifty to eighty percent of our oxygen comes from the ocean, and without it humans probably could not survive.
Starting off as a member of Greenpeace International, he formed his own organization, The Sea Shepherd Conservation Society, when his tactics were seen as too extreme and daring for Greenpeace. Watson is firm that he would never hurt others in his attempts to protect the sea life, he seeks only to inhibit their actions.
Watson seems to have no fear of death, which allows him to do things like stand on shaky ice in front of a huge ship to stop it from getting to an endangered species of seal. He says a near death experience as a child gave him this ability.
Chilcott’s film is eye opening to the horrors that take place everyday on the ocean. Shark fin is a particularly expensive commodity, so fishermen will catch sharks, cut off their fins while the shark isstill alive, then throw the body back into the ocean to let the shark bleed to death. (Don’t watch this movie with dinner–there is a lot of blood shown throughout!) Things we would never do to creatures on land, Watson says.
The cinematography in Watson is simply stunning work. Gorgeous underwater shots, first person action moments, it is all done incredibly. I would highly recommend this film because you not only are entertained throughout, but you learn a heck of a lot.
Does Watson pass the Bechdel-Wallace Test?
Unfortunately, it does not. The only women mentioned are in relation to Watson.