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By Phil Hall | October 16, 2000

Fans of nature documentaries are highly recommended to check out “Aliens of the Sea,” an extraordinary journey beneath the waters that surround the Australian coastline. For those who are enchanted with the oddball land animals that populate the Land Down Under, the sea creatures who live Way Down Under are even more challenging and bizarre.
Filmed over a two year period by co-director Pawel Achtel, “Aliens of the Sea” is one of the most beautifully lensed productions of its genre. Rarely has an oceanographic documentary captured the intricate beauty of the world beneath the waves with such a brilliant range of color and excitement. This is no mean feat, as the underwater world is decidedly lacking in light and its residents have a tendency to shy away from human intrusion. But working with special cameras to capture this little-appreciated kingdom and blessed with a hypnotic score by Gordon Reid, “Aliens of the Sea” presents an aquatic ballet of glorious animals gliding in majesty amid an orbit of caverns and valleys in a spectacle which can never be recreated in an aquarium.
The stars here include the sleek Manta Ray, which glides in a chic, uninterrupted style; the Australian Sea Lion, whose playful demeanor and sweet beauty is made more painful by its fragile status as an endangered species; the Sea Horse, which floats with a casual insouciance amid the nooks and crannies of the reefs; and the Sea Dragon, an elusive cousin of the Sea Horse whose appearance here marks a very rare occasion in which this underwater denizen turned up in a film. The coral reefs, stationary works of nature that are actually living and breathing lifeforms, are lovingly featured in all of their spectacular yet delicate grace.
A winner of several awards on the festival circuit, including the First Place Gold Camera Award at the US International Film and Video Festival and the Merit Award at the International Wildlife Film Festival, “Aliens of the Sea” provides an invaluable record of a special world which thrives a few levels below our frantic plateau. And with a 50-minute running time, it is the rare film which actually leaves its audience begging for more.

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