A Sea Change reviewed by Prof. Jeff Levinton, Stony Brook University

"The feeling that we have stolen something from our children falls heavy on the old, who wonder whether they have done right by themselves, their family, and their society. Sven Huseby feels this deeply as he discovers that his generation has profoundly changed the atmosphere by adding carbon dioxide. The ocean will acidify and perhaps extinguish a large part of the base of the oceanic food web. Sven’s parents met amid the bounty of fish that could be caught and sold in Norway, and then his family moved to Alaska where you could walk on the fish schools. Now will his grandson face a world without fish?

Sven rowsThis gentle film follows Sven’s journey, from his Norwegian roots, to a new life in the United States, to his idealistic days as a teacher in a progressive school in Vermont, to his retirement and longing for a way to tell his grandson Elias how special the world was when Sven was young and how much it will take to keep it that way.

The journey is not linear, which makes it all the more compelling. Sven meets scientists, hoteliers, fishermen, conservationists, and environmental entrepeneurs, all who tell an alarming story but end it with the glimmer of hope that can make an idealist like Sven positively giddy. As the movie comes to a close, Sven hears about green technologies and his childlike wonder tell all about his evanescant and hopeful personality. The movie is clearly of the documentary mode, but it is beautifully shot and moves from place to place in North America and Norway in a smooth and effective track. Sven learns, thinks, shows his deep love for his grandson, but never forgets his mission to communicate the future and the consequences of inaction.

California-Sven&Elias3[A Sea Change] is the opposite, as much as is possible, of the hard-hitting An Inconvenient Truth. Instead of a starring personality who sucks the air from all around him, we see a thoughtful person who thinks and moves carefully, and never makes you feel sorry for him or the planet. When he asks questions, you feel that you want to help him and talk with him. I never felt that for a second about Al Gore, to be truthful. You will be charmed by Sven, his conversations, and his lovely smart grandson. You will leave the theater hopeful. You will find Sven ever kind, but ever persistent. Don’t expect piles of facts or even the complete story about ocean acidification from this film. That is not the point. Mr. Huseby wants you to test the roots of your idealism, your resolve, and your hope for the future and its children."
Jeffrey Levinton, Director, Marine Biology Web Page, Distinguished Professor, Stony Brook University

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