Yann Arthus-Betrand ist Abenteurer, Fotograph und Filmemacher. Sein berühmtester Film HOME hat Millionen von Menschen bewegt und verändert. Am Rio+20 Gipfel 2012 stellte er sein neustes Werk “Planet Ocean” vor – Ein Plädoyer für den Schutz der Ozeane. Hier ein Interview mit ihm zu diesem neuen Film kurz vor der Veröffentlichung der DVD Ende Januar 2013.

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Why did you feel the need to make Planet Ocean?

At the beginning it was a request by Omega, the Swiss watch manufacturers, for the ministers attending RIO +20, the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development, in order to give them a sense of what oceans are.  I wanted to tell the story of the world, our life on earth.  At first, I didn’t feel so much like making this movie because I couldn’t figure out how I was going to take aerial shots of the ocean in order to talk about it. In the end, we managed to reconcile the idea of sky and seas, and I worked with people who filmed underwater; somehow, they also “fly” in the sea over the fish, just as I fly over the landscapes I shoot. Their slow underwater movements also attracted me. We had to mix our approaches and reach a synergy between sky and ocean, mingle our slowness in shooting. It worked really well.

What is the core message of Planet Ocean?

Everyone knows, although we sometimes tend to forget, that we all share a planet, the blue planet. The ocean seems so great that it has forged our vision of an endless sea . . . but everything on the planet has only a limited capacity, so we must learn to manage. The resources of the oceans are not endless; we have to be careful.  Because oceans supply us with the oxygen that we all breathe, because they also supply us with a large portion of what we eat, and because they allow us to conduct the majority of our trade, oceans are at the center of our lives. It’s also a matter of morality and ethics. Is it normal to catch fish, and throw them back into the ocean because they are dead, too small or too big or because they are not edible? It took earth, as we know it, millions of years to form. Nowadays we talk about phenomena in hundreds of years. We have to reflect on life around us.

Who is Planet Ocean’s biggest ally in spreading its message?

Our biggest ally is our intelligence, our common sense. It’s as simple as that. It will be necessary for everyone to work together to change the world.

What would you like audiences to take away with them?

First of all the beauty of the world, the pleasure of watching this movie, it’s a beautiful movie. We can all do something for our planet. I wanted to show the beauty of the oceans, their diversity, their usefulness, but also the threats that they face today and the potential solutions that mankind can bring. The ocean is this primordial soup which, some billions of years ago, allowed life to flourish and ultimately, for us to evolve. It is this connection that I wanted to portray in my film. Indeed, mankind is both the cause and the remedy of its ills.

Why is it that humanity has forgotten the importance of protecting our planet and our ocean?

Because we are in our day-to-day lives, it’s a complicated notion protecting our planet and protecting our ocean. There are fish in the ocean; therefore there will always be fish in the ocean. We think we can fish indefinitely. We cannot figure what we do not see.

What sea creature intrigues you the most and why?

Plankton. I developed my knowledge of plankton during this movie. In a way, I discovered my family. It’s where I come from. TARA (a unique pool of researchers, oceanographers and biologists from all over the world) explained to us that each time they went out fishing they discovered new species. It’s fascinating; it’s an unknown world. It’s also what produces the oxygen I breathe.  50% of the oxygen we breathe comes from the sea. It’s amazing to think that the cliffs of Etretat, the chalk of the world, are billions of dead plankton piled one on top of the other, and the plankton has sucked up all the carbon so that our air is breathable. It’s quite incredible. It’s the witness of our lives, it’s a very remote geological time.

How much has Al Gore influenced you and your work?

Al Gore’s movie, An Inconvenient Truth (2006) helped me realise that going to a theater to see a movie is a totally different approach to watching movies. It struck me when we organised the screening of Al Gore’s movie at the Assemblée Nationale, in Paris, seeing the audience so focused. In front of a TV screen anything can distract you, but in a theater you’re there to watch a movie. I know Al Gore well, he helped me make my movie HOME.

You’ve mentioned previously that Home was filmed before a script was written– did you apply the same process for Planet Ocean?

Actually the movie was a work in progress while we were making it.  When we were looking for images, we got some we never thought we would. There are shots we didn’t film but other cameramen gave them to us. We’ve been very lucky.

How do you create the film’s rhythm and flow?

I think it’s instinctive. You make the movie you dream of. Here we added slowness and we put everything we wanted to put in it in order to take our time watching things. I like to take the time to watch things. I want to see what I see when I am flying, I enjoy taking the time, I hate movies where sequences are cut too short. A normal movie is 7 or 8000 shots, in Home there are 2000 I think, maybe less. We generate much longer shots.

How important is music to compliment the film’s stunning pictures?

There is a kind of mystery to music. I never quite understood why there is that mystery, why music carries you away. Armand Amar makes all the music for my movies, he is one of my best friends, and I couldn’t see myself working without him.  He did much more than just help on the music. He immediately said that the movie was exceptional, that he wanted to compose the score. He got very involved in it, much more than we imagined.

What is the simplest way people can help save their local ocean?

We are not here to give lessons to anyone. We’re talking about responsibility, common sense, not guilt. It is obvious that today, out of moral ethics, we have to respect life around us. We know we are doing things wrong, so why keep on doing it?  We know we have to find that middle ground. Whatever we do, we always impact on things around us, but we have to try and reduce what we do to nature.


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