Love quest

Fol­low Sammy the tur­tle on his jour­ney across oceans in search of the love of his life.

The Star Malaysia - Star2 - - ENVIRONMENT - com­piled by SHeeLA cHAN­dRAN

THE ad­ven­tur­ous life of sea tur­tle Sammy and his search for true love takes cen­tre stage in 3D an­i­mated movie, Sammy’s Ad­ven­tures: The Se­cret Pas­sage.

The heart-warm­ing story is about Sammy (voiced by Yuri Lowen­thal) who scram­bles to the sea shortly af­ter hatch­ing out of his shell on a Cal­i­for­nian beach. He falls for a hatch­ling sea tur­tle named Shelly (Jenny McCarthy) but loses her upon fall­ing onto an old raft which gets car­ried out to the open ocean.

Far from be­ing a su­per­hero, Sammy is an or­di­nary tur­tle who has had some ex­tra­or­di­nary ad­ven­tures. He was born in 1959 on a Cal­i­for­nia beach and since then, has trav­elled the world’s oceans for 50 years.

On his long voy­age of dis­cov­ery, he runs into many dangers such as hav­ing to bat­tle pi­ra­nhas and fish ea­gles.

He be­comes the mas­cot for a hippy com­mu­nity, dis­cov­ers how hu­mans are de­stroy­ing the en­vi­ron­ment by pol­lut­ing rivers and seas and wit­nesses the splash­down of Apollo 11 in the Pa­cific Ocean. And, one day, af­ter all his ad­ven­tures and close shaves, Sammy man­ages to find Shelly.

In­ter­est­ingly, Bel­gian film di­rec­tor/ pro­ducer Ben Stassen was in­spired to cre­ate the movie af­ter wit­ness­ing the hatch­ing of new­born tur­tles while va­ca­tion­ing in Mex­ico a few years ago.

“At sun­set, I saw a group of ho­tel em­ploy­ees who were trans­port­ing a clutch of tur­tle eggs in the process of hatch­ing. While watch­ing these baby tur­tles tak­ing their first steps to­wards the sea and be­ing washed back onto the beach by waves, I was in­formed these hatch­lings stay on the ocean’s sur­face for the first 10 years of their life. When I saw the re­ac­tions of chil­dren and adults, I thought it would make a great 3D an­i­ma­tion,” ex­plained Stassen in a press re­lease pro­vided by Golden Screen Cine­mas.

Stassen ex­plained the movie fo­cuses on Sammy’s epic 50-year jour­ney and de­ter­mi­na­tion to suc­ceed in life.

“When he hatched, Sammy was so tiny he couldn’t heave him­self out of the nest. But he’s a fighter. He is de­ter­mined to suc­ceed in his mis­sion, no mat­ter what, and noth­ing’s go­ing to stop him,” said Stassen, whose di­rect­ing ef­forts in­clude En­counter In The Third Di­men­sion and Fly Me To The Moon.

The movie also serves as an ed­u­ca­tional tool where it em­pha­sises on en­vi­ron­men­tal is­sues like de­struc­tion and pol­lu­tion – the main causes of the sea tur­tle’s de­cline.

“The film’s ‘he­roes’ gave us a chance to tackle ques­tions about im­por­tant en­vi­ron­men­tal is­sues like de­struc­tion of un­der­wa­ter life, cli­mate change and pol­lu­tion.

“Granted, we don’t of­fer an­swers to these prob­lems, but in rais­ing aware­ness among our young au­di­ence, we have a chance to take a small step in the right di­rec­tion.

“When Sammy and his friends are con­fronted by an oil slick, they re­alised that hu­man be­ings are strange crea­tures – some turn the oceans into dump­ing grounds while oth­ers are busy try­ing to clean them up.

It’s the same for the whale hunt­ing scenes in which there are some who har­poon whales and oth­ers who’ll do any­thing they can to try and stop them,” said Stassen, touted as one of the world’s most suc­cess­ful ex­po­nents of the 3D for­mat.

He is also founder of nWaves Pic­tures, a com­pany that pro­duces 3D/4D con­tent.

True to his rep­u­ta­tion, Stassen and his team worked hard to meet tech­ni­cal or artis­tic chal­lenges in pro­duc­ing this film.

“3D is the sec­ond revo­lu­tion in the his­tory of cin­ema. It can be viewed as a to­tally new cin­e­mato­graphic lan­guage.

“When an au­di­ence watches a 3D movie, the sen­sa­tion of im­mer­sion ex­pe­ri­enced is 10 times more pow­er­ful than with reg­u­lar films.

“They are plunged right into the very heart of the filmic space and have a feel­ing of to­tal phys­i­cal os­mo­sis.”

Ac­cord­ing to Stassen, the biggest chal­lenge in cre­at­ing the film was hav­ing to come up with a 3D movie which takes place en­tirely un­der the ocean.

“An­i­mat­ing or­ganic mat­ter (like wa­ter) was ex­tremely com­plex de­spite us­ing com­puter-aided an­i­ma­tion tech­niques. Tech­ni­cally, it was a night­mare to cre­ate this film with an in­ter­na­tional scope and limited bud­get.”

Swim with Sammy: You, too, can be part of the ad­ven­tures of a young tur­tle in the 3D an­i­mated movie, Sammy’s Ad­ven­tures:TheSe­cretPas­sage.

The story of the hatch­ling serves to ed­u­cate the young about how pol­lu­tion is af­fect­ing their sur­vival.

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