TIFf ’22: Patrick and the Whale

I have been enchanted by cetaceans from the first time I heard whale song in my early teens. They fascinate me. And while our history with our fellow mammals is violent and bloody at best, we’ve slowly begun to put that behind us as we work to learn more about these amazing beings we share the planet with.

I get the feeling that Patrick Dykstra shares that feeling.

Director Mark Fletcher documents Patrick’s travels around the globe, from an awe-inspiring encounter with a blue whale to relationships built over a decade with members of pods of sperm whales.

The film’s underwater photography is nothing short of jaw-dropping, as we encounter these behemoths in their natural environment, where they are graceful and beyond beauty. We balance that with the almost naivete that Patrick has about these beings. He projects, much like any of us would do, his own emotions onto these creatures.

Is he right on his read of certain situations? Time will tell, as, like Patrick, I believe communication with these intelligent beings is close. But I envy him the time he’s had to build these relationships and to share in their lives.

But that isn’t the real wow factor of this film, it’s how close he and the camera gets to these whales, seeing them hanging vertically motionless is awe-inspiring. Stunning, and beautiful, the idea for the final sequence to rotate the camera so the water’s surface is below Patrick and the whale adds a sense of real magic to the film.

By bringing the viewer into their world, by seeing their social behaviour, and by working to understand and communicate with them, we not only discover more about them but ourselves as well,

In fact, my singular complaint about the film is that it is too short. In fact, I could see a limited series launched from this film, following pods, swimming with them, documenting all we can, discovering new things about behaviours, and following individuals.

You can catch a screening on Friday the 16th at Scotiabank!


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