Thursday, October 22, 2009

The most beautiful Youtube video I've ever watched.

Get these left handed lovers out of your way
They look hopeful but you, you should not stay
If you want me to break down and give you the keys
I can do that but I can’t let you leave
The video below makes me weep, but I can't stop watching it.

Shot on the Canon 5D Mark II (same camera we used to shoot my feature, A Beautiful Belly) by filmmaker Jon Rawlinson at the Okinawa Churaumi Aquarium in Japan (the world's largest), the video features a simple wide-angle view of dozens of people watching the whale sharks, mantas, and other assorted rays and fish that inhabit the exhibit, all set to music by Barcelona.

I can't quite put my finger on why this video grips me so, but I find it both exquisitely beautiful and frightfully sad. There's the obvious level of aesthetic beauty — the incredible ballet of awesome aquatic wildlife set to haunting music — but the video somehow speaks of deeper spiritual truths. I've watched it again and again, and each time I experience something new.

See the mundane actions of simple human observers: a child more interested in playing with the retractable belt-stanchions that surround the exhibit than in watching the massive beasts held captive for his pleasure; a woman watching the once-in-a-lifetime spectacle through the low-quality viewfinder of her cell phone camera; a man turning to face a friend, mugging for the camera with "Tricky Dick" peace signs over his head; men in hats who stroll past, almost disinterested; the occasional flash of someone taking a photograph for posterity.

See the boggling multitude of ancient and other-worldly creatures in an endless dance of light and motion: 21,000 specimens swirling in almost 2 million gallons of turquoise water; manta rays that glide like angels and 20-ton sharks as gentle as guppies.

See the awe and arrogance of a staggering achievement of human engineering and aquaculture: we have conquered the unfathomable power of the abyss; creatures that haunted Magellan's nightmares now held prisoner like giant goldfish; eons of evolution reduced to an attraction for tourists, who'll no doubt exit through the gift shop.

The video represents the best and worst of human behavior: our wonder and lack of wonder; our love of nature and simultaneous desire to tame it; the astounding personal sense of freedom we draw from an encounter with the captives of our own imaginations.

I recommend you watch this in full-screen if at all possible. Let it load all the way to avoid unnecessary bumps in playback, and tune out the background chatter of your life. This video is amazing, and you deserve to be amazed by it:

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