Still Great?
February 26, 2011 3:21 PM   Subscribe

Waterlife — No matter where we live, the Great Lakes affect us all. And as species of fish disappear and rates of birth defects and cancer rise, it seems one thing is clear: the Great Lakes are changing and something's not quite right with the water. An interactive documentary film from the National Film Board of Canada.

Waterlife shows viewers the Great Lakes as they might appear to a seagull, a fish, or a water molecule... and from a myriad of other amazing perspectives. Filmed over a full year with a battery of specialty cameras and techniques, Waterlife also includes a soundtrack that features Sam Roberts, The Allman Brothers, Dropkick Murphys, Sufjan Stevens, Sigur Ros, Robbie Robertson, Daniel Lanois, Phillip Glass, and Brian Eno.
posted by netbros (20 comments total) 31 users marked this as a favorite
posted by clavdivs at 3:31 PM on February 26, 2011 [1 favorite]

My family moved from Cleveland to L.A. in 1961, when I was five-years-old, and even then one of the big deals was that when you went to the beach on Lake Erie, you shouldn't go into the water. It's obviously gotten worse, but it has been bad for a long time. (no, I will not make a frog-on-a-stove reference... oops)
posted by oneswellfoop at 3:38 PM on February 26, 2011

What a great find! I love the NFB site, and archive of movies and media extensions to movies that are provided there.
I am enjoying the Waterlife site (but it's the wrong word, considering the message) - powerful topic, beautiful interface, gorgeous music...
posted by seawallrunner at 3:54 PM on February 26, 2011

Message and content aside (briefly -- just for now), this has to be one of the most brilliant, subtle and ambitious interactive presentations I've ever seen. Anyone who wants to teach via the web should see this.
posted by maudlin at 4:01 PM on February 26, 2011

What is that music on the Waterlife main page? Sounds VERY familiar to me.
posted by Evstar at 4:05 PM on February 26, 2011

I was lucky to see this film at Hot Docs on the big screen and loved it. I'm looking forward to the interactive experience.
posted by thecjm at 4:05 PM on February 26, 2011

Thanks for posting this- I'll be watching it in full later.

I remember zebra mussels, one of the invasives irrevocably changing the ecology of The Lakes, coating every rocky surface on the Lake Erie beach that I used to visit in the early 90s when I was little. Unlike onefellswoop, my friends and I all used to swim in the water. The sand on that particular beach was largely made of sea glass and broken-down industrial stone that we'd store in glass jars on our windowsills. Later, in high school, we'd sneak onto private Cleveland beaches at night to get high on the giant crags of that industrial stone as the polluted waves roared around us.

The ethos of Cleveland and many other post-industrial cities on those lakes is not unlike the lakes themselves, with its broken structures, its neverending cycles of processing and purging industrial grime, and its disappearing natives. It's no paradise, but we still call it home.
posted by quiet coyote at 4:05 PM on February 26, 2011 [3 favorites]

Evstar: the music is credited in the lower right corner of the page. The first track's "An Ending" by Brian Eno - it was on his Apollo album.
posted by Graygorey at 4:12 PM on February 26, 2011

Wow- great site! I was also happy to find The Rise and Fall of the Great Lakes, a wonderful NFB short from 1968 that I remember watching via 16mm projector.
posted by TAP at 7:14 PM on February 26, 2011 [2 favorites]

This is great.

I grew up swimming in the St. Lawrence River every summer's day, and I remember when the zebra mussels came in. Those bastards are SHARP if you step on a rock covered by them. Not fun. We learned in Junior Naturalists (by Parks Canada?) about how they made the water clear and why that wasn't a good thing.
posted by heatherann at 7:38 PM on February 26, 2011

"No matter where we live, the Great Lakes affect us all"

How is this true for those of us who don't live in North America?
posted by i_am_joe's_spleen at 9:32 PM on February 26, 2011

"No matter where we live, the Great Lakes affect us all"
"How is this true for those of us who don't live in North America?"

I was about to say this as well, hehe. But really, lovely site, so thanks for the link. :o) I hope to visit the lakes someday.
posted by paperpete at 3:52 AM on February 27, 2011

How is this true for those of us who don't live in North America?

Oh, will you check out joe's_spleen and his tiny, non-Great lakes. What a lake-lacking wiener!

Yeah pencil lake, why don't you go splash about in your little puddle of micro-lake while us big men with our huge, mussel-bound GREAT lakes proudly get them out and talk lake.

"I am joe's damp patch" - that's what we call you behind your back, you shrivelled-up-pond owner. Pfft.
posted by the quidnunc kid at 5:28 AM on February 27, 2011 [1 favorite]

Well, by i_am_joes_spleen's definition, I really shouldn't care about the rainforest or destruction of natural wonders on other continents. I've never climbed Everest...why do I care about the heaps of trash left on it, or the conditions at the base camps? Brush possums and rabbits are destructive to native marsupials in NZ? Whatever, not in my backyard. (I care about these things.)

/grew up on the South shore of Lake Superior, the greatest of the Great Lakes.
posted by Uniformitarianism Now! at 5:29 AM on February 27, 2011

Lake Superior! Now THAT is a great lake. I mean, you have to wear some pretty large undershorts to carry THAT lake around, if you know what I mean.
posted by the quidnunc kid at 5:33 AM on February 27, 2011

brush-tail....stupid auto-correct
posted by Uniformitarianism Now! at 5:34 AM on February 27, 2011

Indeed you do. You also need to be able to be able to handle the cold and STILL have something to show in your trousers, because that lake is fucking freezing.
posted by Uniformitarianism Now! at 5:37 AM on February 27, 2011

Dude, I don't wanna hear about your johnson. We're talking about lakes here.
posted by the quidnunc kid at 5:40 AM on February 27, 2011

Is that the wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald or are you just happy to see me?
posted by maryr at 10:10 AM on February 27, 2011

(don't have a Johnson, but my Evinrude starts EVERY TIME and won't quit, yo)

I grew up on the north shore of L. Superior, and currently we live about 200 yards from L. Ontario.

Haven't watched the film yet, but we've visited L.Erie alot. Yes Erie was a mess before the mid-70's I believe, but these days, it's good swimming, (shout-out to Long Point) and great boating.

I think we have the ability and knowledge to keep the Great Lakes clean... I'm alot more worried about the US diverting more of it into the Mississippi for irrigation and cities.
posted by Artful Codger at 8:25 PM on February 27, 2011

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