My Octopus Teacher – Birds on the Blog

My Octopus Teacher


A documentary review

I don’t normally watch documentaries, but I was intrigued by the title, I mean who wouldn’t be, right? And of course, with all the furor it has garnered with the many awards it had accumulated culminating in the Oscar last month, it made me curious.

The film ‘My Octopus Teacher’ is directed by Pippa Ehrlich and James Reed

The film ‘My Octopus Teacher’ is directed by Pippa Ehrlich and James Reed. The narrative starts with a small insight into filmmaker Craig Foster’s struggles with his current pace of life and the impact it’s having on his mental health and personal life. Knowing that he needs to break away from the world for a time to reset, he sets off to his family’s cabin by the sea in the cape of storms, South Africa. There he rekindles the excitement he had in his youth for diving in the Kelp forest. To me its hard to even imagine diving on a coast that has such gusty winds and cold turbulent water. Foster even describes it as ‘one of the wildest, most scary places to swim on the planet’. The grey overcast clouds, sharp outcropping of rock and winds just adds to the dramatic backdrop which hides this complete other world below it. Instead of stepping through the wardrobe into Narnia, he steps through a film of water, deep diving into still blue green, and weaves through ropes of Kelp reaching up to the sky. There he encounters a lone Octopus behaving in the most intriguing manner and so his curiosity is peaked. He decided to follow this Octopus everyday for nearly a year, and this film is his journal about this slow and steady building of trust and the relationship that they develop together.

I cried, was at the edge of my seat, my heart in my throat while covering my eyes in places…. and then could not look away from the pure wonder of it all, and I do mean jaw dropping wonder at the colourful and mesmerising beauty of this kelp forest. The bond that builds between him and this shy but incredibly brave, intelligent and sweet little Octopus is heartwarming. We also get to connect vicariously through Foster with the young Octopus, and it’s amazing to acknowledge her as an individual with spirit, intelligence and an incredible resilience to be able to adapt to every situation she encounters. I love this Octopus, I am in awe of her and I’m not the one who has developed this relationship, but yet I feel I have.

I felt her personality shine through with every visit he made, I felt the phantom touch of her tentacles and the kelp swaying around me. I felt inspired to pick up my canvas and oils to capture this feeling, the ripple of water, the reflection and refraction of light, the bold yet soothing colours and earthy majestic beauty. Its inspired me to read more about the Kelp forest, and understand this hidden beauty that contributes to our planet.

This is I guess the goal of Sea Change project, and part of a broader idea o…

‘Telling stores for Ocean Protection’ which has been set out with the purpose of educating the world on environmental protection through emotion. To educate us on the impacts we all have on every living creature. And to learn some valuable life lessons — from a mollusc no less.

I hope this is a piece you watch.

If there is anything you watch in the year 2021, this should be it.

Watch the full documentary on Netflix, and tell me how you feel at the end of it? What life lessons can you take away from an Octopus?

AUTHOR: Rika Chandra


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