Fathom from Apple TV+ Movie Review


Trust me when I say that the opening of “Fathom” will intrigue you immediately. ​
Across the screen, a comment by American author Charles Bowden pops up. It reads, “We must keep the beasts at bay and in their place. So, we seldom ask them questions, lest they answer and terrify us by smashing our beliefs.” A captivating remark, to say the least.


“Fathom” is about Dr. Ellen Garland and Dr. Michelle Fournet and their work. Separately, they’re studying humpback whales in an attempt to prove that they communicate with one another. Their aim is also to find out why they “sing.” They both come at it from similar angles but are very different, as well, especially when the women tell the audience their thoughts on the whales. They’re both precise and knowledgeable, but Garland makes profound, almost poetic statements about the beasts, whereas Fournet is more deliberate and systematic. Both are equally intelligent, of course. You’ll appreciate learning about the women as they share their thoughts on the mammals they’re tracking, something they’ve both been doing for many years.



The movie is beautiful and touching, but I must add that it could have been so much more. Focusing primarily on the scientists themselves, rather than the subjects of their work, the Humpback Whales, I feel we miss out on why they are doing what they are doing. We learn how long they’ve been studied by scientists and the strides that have been made, and we hear the sounds they make. Yet, visually, we aren’t given much of an opportunity to make a connection.



As we digest all the information, we’re shown MRIs of whale’s brains. There’s also CGI that looks similar to the galaxy to accompany the sounds they make. That’s all well and good, but I believe that had we gotten more images of the whales, especially underwater, it would have made the film more appealing. As it is, we’re given the names of the sounds that the particular whales being tracked make. But we don’t get a good look at any of them. A few hop out of the water, falling back in, but they’re only seen from a distance.



Visual misstep aside, what you learn from the women is enthralling enough to watch more than once. Garland explains that the oldest cultures on earth are not humans but from the ocean. She expounds on that, saying that before we walked upright, a consciousness bloomed because we became social. She defines whale consciousness as regions related to self and community growing more elaborate than in any other brain, including ours. That the sense of sight and sound emerged, thus allowing them to see one another through sound. They had to evolve to build relationships in the dark. They are some of the most complex creatures on earth. She adds that it’s all a result of evolution. They’re millions of years older than us, however, studying them could help us learn something about ourselves. Maybe we can connect differently to one another millions of years from now.



These are the reasons these remarkable women are doing what they’re doing. Fournet wants to create a record for the generations coming up to see that something beautiful was here. They are doing it for the research and how much they love the planet as well as everything on it. They’re hoping to help it evolve and survive.
Watch this extraordinary documentary to find out if Dr. Ellen Garland and Dr. Michelle Fournet are successful in the pursuits sought here.



“Fathom” premiers globally on Friday, June 25; exclusively on Apple TV+.






Director: Drew Xanthopoulos
Featuring: Dr. Ellen Garland and Dr. Michelle Fournet


Producer: Emmy Award winner Megan Gilbride
Rated: NR
Run Time: 1h 27m
Genres: Documentary




tmc.io contributor: ShariK.Green tmc
I'm the Sr. Film Writer and Community Manager for tmc.io. I write, direct and produce short films with my production company, Good Stew Productions. I'm now working on my first feature film which is a lot of work but a lot of fun! Though it's hard to answer this questions when asked, I'd say my favorite movie is “The Big Chill.” I enjoy photography, poetry, and hiking and I adore animals, especially elephants. I live in Arizona and feel it's an outstanding and inspirational place to live.

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