Sharks are all the rage this week in light of Discovery Channel's annual Shark Week, a hypervisual bonanza of blood peppered with some feel-good accounts and less volatile documentaries (and pseudo-documentaries?) aimed at injecting a sizable dose of terror into viewers' couch-sitting noggins. Then there's the viral web phenomenon of a Roomba-cruising cat in a shark costume and the sad revelation of a dead shark's carcass planted on a New York City subway train.
Suffice it to say, the human race has a preoccupation with the creature. This is nothing new, as we've been alternately paralyzed and fascinated by sharks since the landmark film Jaws in 1975, the world's first true blockbuster movie. And I am among those who can't take their eyes off the carnage—and the beauty—of sharks. I actually wasn't even allowed to watch Jaws until a certain age, raised in a home where my then-pastor father time and again, when we wanted to see a Jaws- or Scream-type flick, admonished my young brothers and me that "we are not made to live in fear."
Enter Great White Shark. This smartly paced 3D documentary experience now showing at the Indiana State Museum comes across as a 40-minute visual love letter to Carcharodon carcharias, "the predator we love to fear." It's narrated by English actor Bill Nighy (Love Actually, Shaun of the Dead, Underworld), who lends a stately calm to the proceedings. As much as he can, anyway, based on the creative introductory credits and amazing footage of these graceful, sleek animals flipping and leaping out of the water.
If I have any criticism of the film, it's that I wished for a longer run time. However, at its current length, it likely has a far better opportunity to educate today's ADD-addled youth, and many of them made up the audience with whom I took in the film.
Per the International Shark Attack File at the Florida Museum of Natural History, unprovoked shark attacks on human in the past 431 years (through 2011) have resulted in just 471 deaths. As Wired.com has it, "Only about 100 attacks, unprovoked or provoked, are reported every year, which works out to one shark attack for every million sharks killed." Yea, as Great White Shark tells us, the GWS and its related species are themselves in danger, a far cry from what silly thrillers the likes of Deep Blue Sea have told us. (Dare I even mention Sharknado?)
"Live every week like it's Shark Week," said Tracy Morgan's character on the erstwhile NBC sitcom 30 Rock. Indeed, I say—and live without fear.
Screenings through August 22 at 12:25, 3, and 5:40 p.m. Indiana State Museum, 650 W. Washington St. imax.com.