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‘Kinneret: Sea of Life’ gets up close and personal

CM 11/08/2021

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If you love nature and enjoy tuning into the National Geographic channel when you can’t go hiking yourself, you will be happy to know that Israel has a great nature photographer/cinematographer, one whose work rivals anything you will see filmed anywhere in the world, Moshe Alpert, and that he has just released a new movie, Kinneret: Sea of Life. 

He has made several previous films, among them Land of Genesis (2010) and A Tale of a Wolf (2013) and his new film focuses on a swamp cat (they are also called reed cats and jungle cats in English) that lives alongside the Sea of Galilee. Cat lovers will flip over this movie, since the swamp cats look to be very close cousins of domestic cats. Every year, technology advances at a great clip and Alpert is able to use the new techniques and equipment to get even closer to his subjects than ever before. The result is an extraordinarily beautiful film, one that will thrill even the most jaded viewer with its breathtaking images of the natural world and shows the animals up close and personal in a way that no hiker will ever be able to see. 
This movie shows the life cycle of a cub and her mother from her days learning to fish all the way to her mating, having her own cubs and passing on her survival skills to them. It features amazing underwater photography of the cat swimming – you won’t call it the “doggy” paddle anymore after you see this – and it also focuses on the rest of the flora and fauna in and around the Kinneret. There are gorgeous time-lapse shots of sunsets and sunrises over the water, as well as underwater shots of fish, and much above-ground photography of cats and other marine life. This includes extraordinary shots of birdlife along the Kinneret, showing cormorants and many other types of birds. The scenes of winter rain falling on the lake are especially lovely. 
While the film is aimed at children and it will undoubtedly help build respect in them for nature, parents should realize that there are several scenes that young children may find upsetting. These occur when a swamp cat meets a bad end (a scene that is tastefully filmed but may still shock kids) and when some of the animals partake of the buffet that we can call the Circle of Life, especially when birds nosh on their neighbors’ offspring. 

While I do recommend this film for everyone who loves nature, it is not without flaws. At about 90 minutes, it will strain the patience of many young viewers and even adults may find it slow going, especially if you are used to National Geographic episodes that cover the entirety of, say, the Sahara Desert in 60 minutes. The narration, obviously geared for children, is at times cloying and tends to anthropomorphize the cats in ways that I would think even this genre had outgrown. While the female cats clearly have instincts to protect and teach their young, we have no reason to think that when they mate, they are mindful of an obligation to carry on the species, as the narration suggests. Uri Ophir’s symphonic score provides a fitting accompaniment for the story, but the songs, geared toward children, become grating and do not underscore the images on screen so much as distract from it. 
What is fantastic in this movie is the beauty and intensity of the photography, which brings us so close to these creatures. The patience and skill necessary to capture these breathtaking images is incredible. According to the press kit, Alpert became so close to the swamp cats he virtually adopted them and his love for the creatures and for the Sea of Galilee shines through in every frame. Alpert, who was a longtime news cameraman for CBS and other news outlets, has said that after decades of photographing human violence, he longed to bring nature to the screen, the nature he grew up with in Kibbutz Afikim in the Jordan Valley, near the Kinneret. I hope this movie will inspire audiences to fall in love with nature and to help preserve it, which is clearly the director’s intention. 

Source: Jerusalem Post

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The host of Coffee Mouth Scare Crow Show and CEO of 452 Impact, Inc. Here is food for thought. Romans 6:23 "For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord." John 3:16 "For God so love ed the world that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him shall be saved."

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