Produced, Written & Directed by David Diley
Starring David Diley, Mike Neumann, Arthur Sokimi
Documentary Film Review by Taryll Baker
When the sole reason of watching a film is to write a review, you often take mental (or physical) notes to refer back to. Whilst watching David Diley’s Of Shark and Man, there were many moments where those thoughts were erased. Not only is it a remarkable film, showcasing a side to sharks we’ve never seen, it’s an entertaining, grounded and informative experience. We hear from divers, biologists and shark experts. It’s ambitious, but it’s also ambiguous.
David Diley is living a normal, tiresome life in London. He longs for something more, so resigns and heads out on an adventure to achieve one of his childhood dreams; to swim with sharks. Firstly, if you didn’t love sharks before, you will now. There’s some valuable knowledge presented here, looking at their behaviour towards humans and how we can help them survive. When under the sea, we look in awe of these magnificent creatures. When above water, we see the people that are working hard to protect them. Sharks are misunderstood and to be respected. We learn this almost instantly. What’s truly unique about Of Shark and Man is that we see many sides to the story. It’s never bigger than itself and this is something I greatly admired.
The visual approach is spectacular. We get as close to the sharks as possible, experiencing almost exactly as David does. We see them in all their ferocious beauty. A huge majority of the film is captured through David’s camera, which sparks up a personal connection which is absolutely essential. Though no great amount of planning was made, the feature feels under control and wonderfully progressive.
Swimming graciously beside this, is the brilliantly compiled soundtrack featuring many fantastic pieces of music written by a vast array of adventurous composers. Each track feels vital to the picture, emotions seen in the film are reflected in the music, though never overstaying its welcome. For instance; the moments underwater during the shark feedings. The visuals do a lot of the work, but having a forceful yet carefully performed layer of percussion underneath as the sharks circulate the camera, can lend a hand in the overall impact. Curating a diverse and effective soundtrack is of great importance, especially when planning such an ambitious project.
By the end of the film we see a transformed and evolved David. It’s a touching reward. Of Shark and Man’s personal direction provides an intimate and exciting viewing experience that I’ll truly never forget. It’s very informative and clean. You’ll never feel outsmarted due to convoluted discussion, it’s smartly handled and thoughtfully cut together. The work has been done, now we can only hope that more people will take notice.
Leaving nothing to be desired, Of Shark and Man is the captain of its own ship as pieces fall naturally into place, creating an exuberant and tasty treat to feed on.