The End of the Line
Documentary exploring depletion of fish stocks in our oceans due to overfishing
In Rupert Murray’s documentary about the depletion of fish stocks in our oceans, scientists mention that the decline of cod and other predators due to over-fishing has led to a proliferation of lobster, prawn and shrimp – the very creatures the fish would usually feed off. This is seen as deeply ominous; for what will happen when we eat up all the lobsters? We’ll be left scraping the bottom, if not of the barrel, then the oceanic equivalent.
Watching the film, we may find ourselves wondering whether the ecological documentary is not unlike the humble lobster, the state of the world reflected in their ever increasing numbers. True the eco-doc has a long tradition – and Pare Lorentz’s 1937 The River remains the equal of any of the last decade – but now there seems a new one out every month warning us of planetary collapse in one form or another.
With the odd exception, notably Hupert Sauper’s comparable 2004 Darwin’s Nightmare and the second half of veteran filmmaker Ermanno Olmi’s documentary about the slow food movement, Terra Madre, the eco-doc is an ethical forum rather than an aesthetic form, and Murray’s film, adapted from Charles Glover’s book, should be seen in the cinema not for its careful compositions and subtlety of exploration, but to join in collective indignation and subsequently take some action.
We need, if we’re not veggies, to think very carefully about where the fish is coming from, and wonder whether that delectable soft flesh on the end of our fork isn’t an endangered species. A number of the screenings will be accompanied by talks to enrage and enlighten.