Beyond fluidity: A cultural history of cinema under water

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


Undersea environments are typically defined in opposition to terrestrial human environments: they are timeless spaces of “anti-civilization.”2 Diving into the ocean, whether via scuba or cinematic technologies, is seen as an escape from the social and cultural processes that characterize everyday life: the constraints of the nation, the progression of history, and racial and territorial conflict. Like many frontiers, these environments are often depicted as subversive spaces where it is possible to challenge and reorient existing social conventions. Authors, artists, and filmmakers, perceiving undersea environments in terms of their fluidity (their ability to shift, reorient, and de-stabilize), have turned to them to experiment with new forms of representation.3 Critical writing on underwater cinema, ranging from Jean Painlevé‘s experimental science films and Jacques Cousteau’s exploration documentaries to Wes Anderson’s parody The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou (2004), has pointed out the unique possibilities that these films offer to the representation of fluid human-animal interactions, the transcendence of social norms, and the generation of collective environmental visions.4.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationEcocinema Theory and Practice
PublisherTaylor and Francis
Number of pages20
ISBN (Electronic)9781136256356
ISBN (Print)9780415899420
StatePublished - Jan 1 2012

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Social Sciences
  • General Arts and Humanities


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