Water is the source of life but in huge quantities it also can be terrifying both for its sheer mass and for what may or may not lurk within.
Even though we know sharks are absolutely essential to the ecosystem, as shown in the beautifully photographed documentary Sharks: Stewards of the Great Reef on Kanopy, their power within the ocean can also inspire fear as in director Steven Spielberg's triple Oscar winner, Jaws.
By the way, if you are feeling like bringing the menace of the deep or another of composer John Williams great scores for Spielberg, check out John Williams & Steven Spielberg: The Ultimate Collection available online from Freegal or in CD format from Bibliocommons.
One of the scariest thing that can be in the water are things that can make us sick. The classic Oscar nominated documentary, In Our Water on Kanopy is worth checking out for the issues that unfortunately remain timely.
Finally, I can't leave this theme without a shout out to my favorite Oscar winning underwater song of all time.
Ballad of the Broken Seas is Isobel Campbell (from Belle & Sebastian) and Mark Lanegan's (of Screaming Trees) debut album. It's a dark and subdued example of excellent alt-country that borders on the gothic.
The Decemberists third album, Picaresque, while not entirely about water, does contain a couple of songs that deal squarely with the ocean. "From My Own True Love (Lost at Sea)" is full of somber longing while "The Mariner's Revenge Song" is a raucous tale of betrayal and revenge...and a whale!
With our theme of all things water and the sea, how about watching two movies about edible water creatures, yes, SEA food! More specifically, here are a couple of wonderful movies with SUSHI: one is an enjoyable feature film and the other is a fascinating documentary :
EAST SIDE SUSHI
This indie film was critically acclaimed with various awards and was a favorite at 9 different film festivals. It's the story of Juana who takes a job at a Japanese restaurant and wants to become a sushi chef despite being told she is the 'wrong' race and gender. You have to love an against-all-odds story! on Kanopy
JIRO DREAMS OF SUSHI
This is a documentary that follows Jiro, a sushi master in Japan with a tiny Michelin 3-star restaurant. I thought it was fascinating learning about the serious art of sushi despite the fact that I never eat it myself! on Overdrive
Water Water Everywhere
Islands by definition are surrounded by water. Think about the wonderful types of music that have been created by island cultures. Cuban rumba and son, Puerto Rican bomba and plena, ska and reggae> from Jamaica, calypso from Trinidad, beguine and zouk from the Antilles and from Haiti rara and compa, and that’s just some of the Caribbean islands. Try exploring music by island hopping! Go from Hawaii to Corsica or the Greek isles, stop in Bali, Java or Sunda and sink into Indonesian gamelan, Madagascar has rich and varied music and so do the islands of New Zealand.
Alexander Street has a suite of music databases filled with great island sounds from the above mentioned islands and more - free to stream with your Santa Clara County Library card.
Try searching all of Alexander Street with the term “islands” - you will find that many hours of pleasant listening await. Your library also has CDs of music from these islands and many others.
When I think of movies with islands I immediately think of the classic movie South Pacific with its wonderful music by Rodgers and Hammerstein and based on John Michener’s Tales of the South Pacific. The movie, soundtrack and book are all available to check out by placing a hold through sccld.org.
Kanopy has lots of island related material. Immerse yourself into the documentary Vanuatu Women’s Water Music. Learn the true story behind the popular children’s book by watching Alone on the Island of Blue Dolphins. Go back in time and experience Moana with Sound, a 1924 documentary about Samoan culture. It was originally a silent film but some 50 years later the daughter of the filmmakers retraced their trip and recorded a soundtrack featuring island musicians.
La Mer (The Sea) by Claude Debussy is one of the finest example of French impressionist music. See the performance by the Orchestre de Paris, conducted by Esa Pekka Salonen on Medici.tv. You can also prepare for this performance by watching him conduct the Los Angeles Symphony in a rehearsal of the piece, and hear him talk about how Debussy uses orchestral sounds to give an impression of the sea. The cd is also available, or stream it from Alexander Street classical music online.
Handel features water in a completely different way in his Water Music. Stream it on Alexander Street's Classical Music Library or request the cd. I actually don't think this sounds anything like water, but it's beautiful and lively.
I'm not a huge fan of ballet, but San Francisco Ballet's production of The Little Mermaid is incredible. The underwater scenes are so fluid and creative in how they evoke the sea and the effect of a mermaid swimming. This is ultimately a sad and disturbing tale, not for children, and also incorporates the tragic life of Hans Christian Andersen. The music by Lera Auerbach is also wonderful.
Sometimes there's a problem with the water. That's the case in Dark Waters, a legal thriller based on shocking true events. Mark Ruffalo portrays corporate lawyer Rob Bilott, who risked everything in his 20 year battle against DuPont and exposed one of the greatest cover-ups in American history. DuPont had been knowingly releasing toxic chemicals for decades into a West Virginia community's water supply, affecting 70,000 townspeople and leading to a growing number of unexplained deaths. Unfortunately, this is only a tip of the iceberg, as the "forever chemical" is still contaminating communities all across the country today.
I am loving this new theme! As a bay area native, I’ve spent many hours watching surfers. I started watching my sister and her friends surf in Capitola and then years later going to Half Moon Bay to catch a glimpse of the wild surfers of Mavericks.
Here are some suggestions as to what I feel are great surfing documentaries, and of course classic surfing music.
In this documentary, not only will you see some great surfing, but you will learn the science of waves and the danger they can present, and how that danger does not deter big wave surfers.
While in Ireland last year, I kept seeing Surfing shops, and thought “surfing in Ireland?” Then while in the Dingle Peninsula, I saw Irish big waves for myself. Stunning. The Wild Atlantic Way, as it is called is home to some big and beautiful waves.
This documentary is an all time favorite of mine. Surfers in their 60’s, 70’s and going up to their 90’s are highlighted in this film. These are surfers that began in the 1950’s and 1960’s, and demonstrates how surfing is more than just a sport. This DVD can be found in our Bibliocommons catalog.
Excerpt from Surfing for Life found on YouTube.
And Now for your listening pleasure, classic surfing songs that will make that drive to the beach go by quickly.
Iration bottles sunny reggae vibes into their latest album Coastin. The dreamy track “Zen Island” will have you longing for life on the island. Stream or download Coastin’ and more Iration on Freegal.
Some of my favorite H2O-themed music:
"Aqueous Transmission" by Incubus will have you floating down the river with its soothing orchestral arrangement. Check out their Morning View album or stream/download “Aqueous Transmission” and more Incubus on Freegal.
"Water Runs Dry" by Boyz II Men is R&B excellence and one of their many greatest hits. Babyface wrote and produced the track off of their II album, which won the Grammy Award for Best R&B Album in 1995 (the first year for this category).
Did you know that your library has lots of TV and movie soundtracks in it's CD collection? Get ready to dive in and enjoy an ocean of music, starting with these children's favorites:
Oceans: Mystery of the Missing Plastic is an interesting documentary on a serious topic that I often don’t stop and give enough thought to. We’ve all heard of the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. It’s easy to assume that most of the world’s plastic that ends up in the ocean is floating there, but this documentary points out that these plastic masses only account for a small amount of what ends up in the water, and tries to solve the mystery of where the rest of it is.
Heart of the Sea: Kapolioka'ehukai was a great, fast paced documentary about Rell Sunn, professional surfer, single mom, and breast cancer advocate. She made an incredible impression on her community by being genuine and passionate about surfing and bringing that joy to others.
When I’m not watching things to possibly feature on this page, I’m usually working on math homework, and I’ve become quite fond of playing nature sounds in the background while I study. Freegal has a wide selection of ocean noises and other nature sounds, as does Alexander Street.
Movies & Music - Question of the Week
Of the following musical acts, this is the only one actually born with their water-themed name
Last week's trivia answer was: Clueless