Acid Horizon (Ivan Hurzeler, 2016): USA

Reviewed by Markus Rusti. Viewed at the Santa Barbara Film Festival 2018.

Acid Horizon is a documentary about what it means to be a scientist while following scientists at sea trying to find a coral that can survive low ph values. The movie starts off showing how they end up getting a boat to take them out to sea. they needed a particular boat that housed ALVIN which is a submarine with two mechanical hands. This was the submarine who uncovered the sunken Titanic.

We get to meet the crew working on the ALVIN tying ropes and backflipping into the sea. The men known as swimmers manage to get some great shots from underneath the ALVIN while it’s in the ocean. The cinematography is on point. Even when we are so far down that no sunlight gets through, we get great shots of species we have never seen before, like deep water relatives of the jellyfish.

Acid horizon is a film about science and what it means to be a scientist. We get to see people in lab coats working in a lab onboard, making decisions and taking conclusions from the data they collect. What they are looking for is a gene in a certain super coral that can survive the ph levels of the deep sea so that they can maybe spread the gene across several species.

Hurzeler creates intense moments when the crew might not get enough data in their trips to the bottom of the ocean. Whether or not they can dive is dependent on a lot of things, including the weather. The crew meets a lot of conflict on their trip. The coral they are looking for is so fragile that they might not be able to get it to the surface because they have to use the metal arms on ALVIN to salvage it.

Acid Horizon is a movie you should take the time to watch. It’s gripping and not too slow, and you learn a lot about the ecosystem of the ocean.

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