DVD: Dolphins! (2000)

September 3, 2014 | By


Dolphins_IMAXFilm: Very Good

Transfer:  Very Good

Extras: Good

Label: Image Entertainment

Region: 1 (NTSC)

Released:  June 29, 2004

Genre:  Documentary / IMAX

Synopsis: IMAX documentary on dolphins and their unique abilities and high intelligence.

Special Features:  Making-of Documentary / MacGillivray Freeman Films Trailers




Oscar- nominated for Best Documentary – Short Subjects


Greg MacGillivray’s 40 min. doc manages to transcend the dangers of being a full travelogue by allowing genuine experts tell their own respective (and ongoing) experiences with dolphins. Contributing star Pierce Brosnan provides bridge narration as Kathleen Dudzinski explains her quest to codify the verbal and physical language of these highly intelligent mammals, while Dean Bernal revisits the same dolphin he’s been meeting in shallow waters for 15 straight yearsAlso shown are different dolphin species in the Bahamas and Mexico, feeding practices, fleeting mating tactics, playfulness, and their vulnerabilities at the hand of man due to tuna nets, disease, and danger from passing boats.

The film’s primary stars may be the dolphin species, but Brad Ohlund and MacGillivray’s cinematography and the extraordinary underwater images are the co-stars. Beautifully edited, Dolphins has some stunning montages, but it’s the slow dissolves which support the elegance and mystique of the films’ eponymous subjects. Sting’s songs and the thematic material (as remixed / orchestrated by Steve Wood) does on occasion transcend palpable, saccharine elements, but there are batches of lyrics that remain pungently cloying.

Image’s DVD features a dual layer disc sporting separate DTS and Dolby encoded versions of the film, plus a making-of doc packed with great interviews, self-reflective moments, and short addendums to some of the looser elements within the film, such as the sad fate of two ailing dolphins whose fates were not covered in the final edit. (Most of the footage is original, but there are some intro shots culled from the similarly structured making-of doc on The Living Sea, also released on DVD by Image.

The DVD transfer is fine, but this is clearly a film that benefits more from a Blu-ray edition, since the filmmakers allowed their patience to be tested over 4 years to gather the film’s striking images, using chunky, loud IMAX cameras whirring less than 2 mins. of usable film in the underwater housing.

Ohlund also filmed parts of MacGillivray’s To Fly! (1976), and several related IMAX docs including The Discoverers (1993), Stormchasers (1995), and Magic of Flight (1996). Co-writer Tim Cahill also wrote MacGillivray’s The Living Sea (1995) and Everest (1998).



© 2014 Mark R. Hasan



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Category: Blu-ray / DVD Film Review

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