Picks and Pans Review: Ocean Symphony

updated 10/12/1987 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 10/12/1987 AT 01:00 AM EDT

There are truly an awful lot of fish in the sea, and the problem with this tape is that it doesn't get around to quite enough of them. The tape seems to aspire to being a visual tone poem celebrating marine life. But while it sometimes suggests the poetry and grandeur producer-director-cinematographer Al Giddings was apparently hoping for, the footage of whales, sharks, octopi, jellyfish, sea snakes and their neighbors too often seems routine. It's hard to escape the thought that not enough time or money went into this project, particularly considering its intended scope. There is no narration, which could have made for a more striking production if the images had been more arresting (Journey into Space, to which this is a kind of sister tape, used the same technique to great success). In addition the synthesized background music (by Arthur Kempel) tends toward the pretentious and hollow, and the subtitles used as transitions match the music: "Life in the sea requires food for survival;" "For eons, sharks have challenged man's oceanic adventures;" "The delicate pulse of jellyfish is animated by simple nerves and gossamer tissue forming an inner space traveler unparalled on the land." Fascinating shots of seals swimming between layers of Antarctic ice (not something claustrophobics will want to dwell on) and killer whales leaping out of the water suggest what Giddings, an Emmy-winning underwater film specialist whose movie credits include The Deep and Black Widow, might have accomplished. As it is, the National Geographic Specials on sharks and whales or a Cousteau rerun would provide more rewarding viewing. (MCA, $29.95)

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