4 out of 5 stars
Jamien Hudson: From Sky to Sea is a beautiful, sublimely-filmed story of embracing, living with and overcoming adversity. Directed by nature documentary director Leighton De Barros, who is a longtime friend of the artist. This film profiles Jaimen, his wife Jess, and their tight-knit team (including De Barros), who work together to achieve Jaimen’s quest to become the world’s first underwater quadriplegic cinematographer.
Hudson’s aerial whale and dolphin imagery are stunning. His spectacular photographs and videos reach hundreds of millions of people online. He has been interviewed by media organisations across the world. Unbeknown to most, he uses a wheelchair. Jaimen has the ambition to take his talents to a new level and pursue his childhood dream of filming underwater. Struggling against the constraints of his disability and the concerns of those around him, Jaimen sets out to prove to himself and the world that nothing will keep him from achieving his dreams.
As a French speaker, it is apt that this film is set and filmed mainly in Esperance, Western Australia. Esperance means “hope”, and this is indeed a hope-filled film. From Sky to Sea is a beautiful meditation on nature and on the human spirit's wonders. As it shows determination in the face of difficulty and reflects God’s redemptive hope instilled into creation and humanity.
The community we see in this film is likewise a beautiful and hopeful picture of life lived alongside others. We do not all have the same physical limits as Jaimen faces. Still, as we see him live a rich and full life (and arguably richer and fuller) through his dependence on others and the interconnectedness this reflects. We may be prompted to consider limits we have in our lives, not as barriers, but as opportunities to live in a more dependant, interconnected, beautifully-vulnerable manner. It is a film about journeying through life alongside others, within and despite our limits; disability is just one example.
From Sky to Sea opened in Australian cinemas this week, and it is a film that is definitely worth seeing on the big screen. The translucent turquoise waters are an absolute wonder to behold. Along with every shot of whales, seals, dolphins and salmon, captured from Jaimen’s drone, they were absolutely magnificent. The aerial view of the whirlpool of the school of salmon seen was something unlike anything seen in cinemas by this reviewer. These sorts of sights are things most of us are unlikely to see except through film. Indeed Jaimen comments that drone photography has enabled him to continue to engage with the ocean he had always loved. The technology allows him to see the water and its inhabitants in a fresh light; from above. It is a treat for the viewer to see these things from above, from a new vantage point. It opens our eyes to the wonders of the world around us, and the incredible beauty of creation.
The film's narrative could have been a little bit tighter in parts. Initially, it was thought that Jaimen was a filmmaker of this film, but he’s the subject. Overall, this is a stunning picture of the ocean sea creatures and the human spirit. The support of this film is overwhelming and speaks of how this story taps into and awakens something that we as cinema goers and as humans are hungry for Esperance.
REEL DIALOGUE: How do you react to the challenges that humanity experience?
"I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well." Psalm 139:14
This story struck hard at the heart of those of us with children who were born with physical limitations. Yet within the story, out of the challenges faced by Jamien Hudson there came an appreciation of life. One element of the teachings of Jesus that reflected the words of Psalm 139 shows that God values each and everyone of us.
"Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? And not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father. But even the hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not, therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows." Matthew 10:29-31
Jesus is saying that God does care about his creation, but more importantly he cares about each person on earth. Each man and woman has value and even though he knows every sparrow and where it falls, yet mankind's value exceeds the sparrows. To the point that God cares so much about humanity that he knows the numbers of each of our hairs and has provided a means to spend eternity with him through his Son.
This all means that regardless of your life experiences and physical or mental limitations, you are valued by God. Which means that there is no one that God turns his back on when they genuinely seek him.