PLAYING WITH SHARKS--THE VALERIE TAYLOR STORY (film review by Mark R. Leeper)

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Mark Leeper

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Nov 7, 2021, 11:28:35 AM11/7/21
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This National Geographic film tells the story of Valerie Taylor,
who has worked to educate the world about sharks, and to promote
conservation efforts for them. It (and Taylor) are saying that
the activity of the title is not nearly as dangerous as it
suggests. (Taylor at one point says, "It's more dangerous to have
a backyard pool" than to go swimming in the ocean.) One problem,
of course, is that the world wants its monsters even if they are
not true monsters.

Valerie Taylor has studied sharks since the 1950s. (She is now 85
years old and still diving.) The camera's eye shows you scenes
from the early days of profligate hunting of sharks and one knows
that the anti-shark attitude will be coming along soon.

Fueled by curiosity, Valerie Taylor and a group of other divers
went searching to film a great white shark under water, something
that had never been done before due to the lack of cameras and
camera operators who could dive. Some of this footage was used for
the film BLUE WATER, WHITE DEATH. Taylor was also involved in the
making of JAWS, and there is some information on that as well.
(When he realized that JAWS resulted in a massive increase in shark
hunting, Benchley regretted writing it. Taylor does not say she
regrets her involvement, but rather emphasizes that the film is
fiction.) In general, between the divers portrayed and the sharks
the attitude now seems to be pretty much live and let live.

[I hope there are subtitles, because many of the interviewees had
fairly strong Australian accents.]

Released on Disney+ 07/23/21. Rating: high +2 (-4 to +4), or 8/10.

Film Credits:
<https://www.imdb.com/title/tt11226258/reference>

What others are saying:
<https://www.rottentomatoes.com/m/playing_with_sharks>

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Mark R. Leeper
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