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ATLAS (2023)

average rating is 4 out of 5


Joe Beck


Posted on:

Nov 6, 2023

Film Reviews
ATLAS (2023)
Directed by:
Duncan MacLeod
Written by:
Olivier Leger

The oceans are perhaps the greatest mystery remaining on this planet. They are the one part of

earth that remains vastly undiscovered, and, in many places, untouched by the impact of human life. Even though for years man has sought to sail the seas, and have circumnavigated the globe, they remain a source of curiosity and unknown for many. Their vast depths contain secrets unknown to man, and their powerful waves contain unimaginable forces. The ocean, and the marine environment more generally, is also one of the most beautiful, most serene phenomenon on planet earth. The oceans contain a tranquility not offered anywhere else on the planet, a source of relief from humanity and its innumerable stresses, as well as a chance to reconnect with nature amidst the abundance of marine life.


‘ATLAS’ is a documentary that follows ocean wildlife artist Olivier Leger as he embarks on his latest painting ‘Atlas’ - which, based on an ocean myth, depicts a turtle bearing the ocean world on its back. Olivier saw symmetry with the Greek myth involving the titan Atlas, who is condemned to hold up the heavens and sky for eternity. Similar to Atlas, and the turtle in his painting, Olivier is feeling the weight of responsibility in terms of the ever-worsening crisis that humans are causing to the planets oceans. As somebody so involved in marine life, he wishes to do more to promote the conservation of his primary interest, with this reflected in the coral bleaching and acid pollution increasingly appearing in his paintings. Olivier’s frustration at the irreversible damage being done to our marine environments is evident through the sheer anger in his voice as he argues that nothing has changed in the five years since ‘Blue Planet II’.


Olivier also speaks philosophically throughout ‘ATLAS’, giving an interesting perspective into the mind of him as both a person and as an artist. He has an intriguing thought involving the responsibility for the climate crisis, believing that whilst everybody is culpable for any malfunction on our planet, he doesn’t believe that humans are too blame, and that any other organism in out position would have made the same mistakes. It’s an interesting idea, one which, like his many other musings, is posed in an engaging and likeable manner by Olivier Leger, who never loses his audience throughout. This is perhaps even more true in his meditations over art, and his aims as an artist, chiefly his dream to inspire some form of change via art. Too many artists, and indeed to many people, this truly is their aim, and it is fascinatingly delightful to hear it vocalised by an artist, particularly one as talented, and with such an impressive collection of paintings, as Olivier.


Whilst ‘ATLAS’ is undeniably engaging and interesting throughout, at no point is it truly immersive, largely as a result of the relatively flat nature of the directing by Duncan MacLeod. Whilst never noticeably bad, MacLeod’s directing lacks the spark needed to propel ‘ATLAS’ to the next level, and the visual inspiration required to truly invigorate Olivier’s incredible work with even more life.


Nevertheless, ‘ATLAS’ is an interesting documentary about the importance of marine life, and marine conservation, as well providing a nuanced perspective on what it means to be an artist, all while displaying some truly beautiful artwork.

About the Film Critic
Joe Beck
Joe Beck
Short Film, Documentary
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