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The Sea Around Us (film)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The Sea Around Us
Film poster for The Sea Around Us
Directed byIrwin Allen (uncredited)
Produced byIrwin Allen
Written byIrwin Allen
Based onThe Sea Around Us
by Rachel L. Carson
Narrated byDon Forbes
Theodore von Eltz
Music byPaul Sawtell
Edited byFrederic Knudtson
Doane Harrison (as Dean Harrison)
Distributed byRKO Radio Pictures
Release date
  • July 7, 1953 (1953-07-07)[1]
Running time
62 minutes[2]
CountryUnited States

The Sea Around Us is a 1953 American documentary film written and produced by Irwin Allen, based on the book of the same name by Rachel L. Carson. It won the Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature.[3][4]

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It was 1962 -- the height of the Cold War -- a moment when unrelenting anxiety about the future was leavened by an abiding faith in the power of science to secure our safety and prosperity. Then came an incendiary book that sowed seeds of doubt. This is one of the nation's best sellers, first printed on September 27, 1962. Up to now 500,000 copies have been sold, and Silent Spring has been called the most controversial book of the year. At the eye of the storm was Rachel Carson, one of the most celebrated American writers of her time. With her first three books -- a lyrical trilogy about the sea -- Carson had opened people's eyes to the natural world. Now, in Silent Spring, she delivered the dark warning that they might soon destroy it. If we are ever to solve the basic problem of environmental contamination, we must begin to count the many hidden costs of what we are doing. Miss Carson maintains that the balance of nature is a major force in the survival of man. Whereas the modern chemist, the modern biologist, the modern scientist believes that man is steadily controlling nature. It was sort of the gospel at the time that human ingenuity would triumph over nature; what Carson was arguing was for caution. She really confronted the orthodoxies of her time. She was accused of being a Communist, of being a hysterical, female Luddite. The reaction was to attack the messenger. Carson was an unlikely heretic. Dutiful, demure, and so jealous of her solitude that her most intimate relationship was conducted mainly through letters, she'd thrust herself into the public eye -- all the while harboring a secret that was literally killing her. To some, Silent Spring was an act of heroism; to others, an irresponsible breach of scientific objectivity. But there could be no dispute that with her rebuke to modern technological science, Carson had shattered a paradigm. Rachel Carson not only changed the kind of questions we ask about the environment; I think she caused us to start to ask those questions. She’s the instigator. In mid-July 1945, as the Second World War ground on in the Pacific and weary Americans scanned the morning's headlines for the word "victory," Rachel Carson was trying to call attention to what she believed was a war against the earth. Carson was 38 that summer, and restless. A writer by inclination and a biologist by training, she'd spent much of the previous decade in the employ of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, overseeing publications about its conservation work. The job paid the bills; but Carson craved a wider audience. Now, the agency had undertaken a study she felt warranted public attention. As she put it in a letter to the popular monthly Reader's Digest: "Practically at my Maryland an experiment of more than ordinary interest and importance is going on." On a vast, forested tract at the Patuxent Research Refuge, not far from Carson's home in Silver Spring, Fish and Wildlife scientists had begun to examine the environmental impacts of a relatively new chemistry-lab creation: a so-called "synthetic" pesticide known as DDT. Dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane, DDT. It was first synthesized back in the 19th century and it sat on lab shelves for decades. Nobody knew if it did anything, if it had any useful purpose, until 1939 when a Swiss chemist named Paul Müller discovered that it was a very potent insecticide and killed all kinds of bugs very readily. Absorbed through the feet or other parts of the body, DDT effects the nervous system and motor coordination of the insect. Several hours elapse before symptoms develop; then in sequence follows restlessness, tremors, convulsions, paralysis, and death. Farmers have been doing war with insects and other pests for a long time and they had been using what we think of now as almost obviously homicidal poisons to do that. But for the first time we have a sort of new generation pesticide. It’s a whole new fascinating kind of chemical formula that's not obviously toxic to people and insects are dying all over the place. After the bombing of Pearl Harbor, the U.S. military had rushed DDT to the battle zones, in an effort to protect American troops from insect-borne diseases such as typhus -- which was spread by lice, and left untreated could kill. This was Naples, Italy, shortly after the Allied occupation. Its crowded population lacked almost everything for the safeguarding of public health. The perfect set-up for epidemic. Naples is really a city under siege. And typhus spreads quickly under those kinds of conditions. So they set up spray stations in the cities, spraying thousands of people a day with hand sprayers -- people who wanted to get sprayed, people who didn’t wanna get sprayed, children, elderly. Next, the 40,000 Italians dwelling in the jam-packed air raid shelters were deloused. In all, more than a million people were dusted with DDT, and the epidemic was stopped in its tracks. “Neapolitans," the New York Times reported, "are now throwing DDT at brides instead of rice." Meanwhile, in the tropical Pacific theater -- where more soldiers had been sidelined by malaria than by gunshot wounds -- entire islands were saturated with DDT. General Douglas MacArthur once said that in war an Army commander had three divisions, one in the front fighting, one in reserve, and one in the rear being refitted. He said, “I have one in the front, one in reserve, and one in the hospital” because of malaria. But with DDT that problem diminished substantially. It was considered to be a miracle substance in that it saved hundreds of thousands of lives. By the middle of 1944, TIME magazine had pronounced DDT “one of the great scientific discoveries of World War II.” To Reader's Digest, Rachel Carson was offering a new angle -- a piece exploring DDT's potential to cause collateral damage to wildlife. Biologists for the Fish and Wildlife Service begin to see pretty quickly that when DDT is used in certain areas there’s evidence of problems. There’s evidence of fish kill or bird kill and they see that and like any expert they publish it in a place where other experts will read it. But how that information then filters out to a larger public is a very big question. Carson understood the implications of this. She wanted to write a story warning people that, “We need to be a little bit careful with this. This looks like it’s a great thing but we maybe need to be cautious in how we use it, how much of it we use.” But Reader’s Digest doesn't want this article. They essentially say, “Oh, housewives would be just turned off by this. They wouldn’t wanna know about this terrible stuff so no. No, thank you.”



  1. ^ "The Sea Around Us: Detail View". American Film Institute. Retrieved June 1, 2014.
  2. ^
  3. ^ Crowther, Bosley. "NY Times: The Sea Around Us". NY Times. Retrieved November 8, 2008.
  4. ^ "The 25th Academy Awards (1953) Nominees and Winners". Archived from the original on July 6, 2011. Retrieved August 20, 2011.

External links

This page was last edited on 25 November 2018, at 13:20
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