The trailer for Midway: A Message from the Gyre has been out for a few years now, but I only came across it last week. Even though I was familiar with the Great Pacific Garbage Patch and knew about the plight of the albatross on this remote atoll, I was unprepared for Chris Jordan’s unflinching look at death and dying, of chicks bloated with plastics fighting for each breath, at beak and feather and sinew giving way to a grotesque nest of bottle caps and butane lighters, still discernable. It’s hard to watch:
Midway is steeped in heartbreak and grief, as with so many environmental tales of our time. It forces us to face the reality of the situation, our complicity in this unfolding tragedy. Yet Jordan’s steadfast focus does not seem to linger on guilt, but rather revolves around awe. Pitching the film as “a love story for our time from the heart of the Pacific”, he also captures these birds in the full flight of life, wayfarers who spend most of their lives soaring ethereally yet stay tethered to earth and sea to feed, to nest, to die. In watching these creatures in life and death, I’m reminded of our shared parallels, two species seemingly detached from the earth but in reality remain still utterly dependent upon it. The lives and plights of human and albatross seem not so different, as are potentially our fates.
I hope you have the chance and courage to watch, as the narrator states, “this journey through the eye of beauty, across an ocean of grief, and beyond.” Until next time.
Featured image by Chris Jordan.