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SA viewers awe-inspired by trending Netflix documentary, 'My Octopus Teacher'

Craig Foster in a heart-warming scene from Netflix’s documentary feature, My Octopus Teacher. Picture: Ross Frylinck/Netflix

Craig Foster in a heart-warming scene from Netflix’s documentary feature, My Octopus Teacher. Picture: Ross Frylinck/Netflix

Published Sep 17, 2020


I’m not big on watching documentaries, but there are some offerings you would be all the poorer for if you missed out on them. That is how I felt about “My Octopus Teacher” on Netflix.

At the time of writing this review, it was sitting at number 4 on the streaming platforms Top 10 in South Africa Today list.

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Viewers who have already seen “My Octopus Teacher”, which was filmed in Cape Town, have been sharing their sentiments on various social platforms.

The documentary chronicles the unusual bond that forms between Craig Foster, who is the director and co-founder of the Sea Change Project, when he stumbles upon an octopus while on his usual daily dive in the Atlantic Ocean.

He summed it up beautifully when he said: “It was very difficult, at first, to imagine she was getting anything out of the relationship. Why would a wild animal, doing its thing, get anything out of this strange human creature, visiting.”

A breathtaking underwater shot from the Netflix documentary, My Octopus Teacher. Picture: Tom Foster/Netflix

In trying to better understand this octopus, he is able to get up-close and connect with her, to the point where there is trust and she comfortably latches onto his hand with her tentacles and hitches a ride up to the surface with him.

To Foster, diving into the freezing ocean helps him purge himself of the issues troubling him. There’s a sense of freedom as he explores the wonders of nature underwater.

His tenacity in connecting with this curious octopus helps him forge a connection with her.

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And his unbridled curiosity about this magnificent creature consumes his every thought.

It gets to a point where, after conducting much research into octopuses, the filmmaker embarks on a night dive to see if it is indeed true that she would be more active during this time frame.

And he bears witness to an incredible moment where he witnesses her catching her prey.

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Over the course of the time, Foster is blown away by the intelligence displayed by the octopus especially when she outsmarts the pyjama sharks hunting her.

A close-up shot of the octopus.

In witnessing her vulnerability, playfulness, survival instincts and sacrificial nature after becoming a mother, he learns lessons that help him deal with the challenges in his personal life.

“She made me realize just how precious wild places are. You go into that water and it’s incredibly liberating. All your life’s problems and drama just dissolve.

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“You slowly start to care for all the animals. You realize everyone is very important,” Foster shared.

“What she taught me was to feel you are a part of this place, not a visitor, that’s the difference!”

Although Foster is paying forward the experience to his son, his new diving companion, his interaction with the octopus remain forever embedded in his heart and mind.

“My Octopus Teacher” is a truly spellbinding documentary, boasting incredible underwater footage, while exploring myriad emotions in what can only be described as an extraordinary journey.

My Octopus Teacher” is streaming on Netflix.

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