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One of the primary purposes of movies and television shows is to entertain the public, but that doesn’t necessarily mean they can’t teach us something as well. Many writers, directors and producers aim for their projects to reflect our changing world. However, some projects become timelier as new things happen, and this would appear to be the case with Underwater.
While speaking with Underwater director William Eubank, I asked him why the idea of man (and woman) vs. nature is a common theme among his films. Eubank responded by saying that he loves primal storytelling and the idea of having his characters face unknown elements. Interestingly, the filmmaker sees a parallel between the film and the current situation our society is facing:
I just think it's so primal, especially in today's landscape. There's a lot of politics. There could be tribal warfare. There’s just so many things happening in today's society that create negativity, all this crazy stuff. When I'm telling a story, I really like taking a story and just making it very primal, and I'm a big fan of primal stories as well. Like I love The Revenant and movies like that where it’s just, ‘I have this feeling and nature is trying to stop me.’ So whether it's space or the wilderness or whatever, I love the concept of one’s greatest adversary being the place that they live in, their surroundings. Because then from that, you can go anywhere. I mean, we're kind of going through that right now with this crazy COVID thing, this unknown entity that came at us out of nowhere. It’s just a very primal way to tell stories. And then as a storyteller, it just makes things kind of simple for me to direct the story because I can tell how I would feel about certain choices.
William Eubank makes an interesting observation, and it’s certainly not unfounded. Many were caught off guard by the coronavirus, as were the characters of Underwater by what they discovered at the bottom of the ocean. And just as the film ends with an uncertain future, this pandemic has also caused a bit of uncertainty for us as well.
Through Underwater, Eubank also manages to illustrate the political implications of dealing with natural elements. The events of the film are set in motion by a corporate entity’s desire to drill at the bottom of the ocean. In the same way, COVID-19 has caused shifts in our political landscape.
Whether we want to acknowledge it or not, creatives are always trying to find ways to make their work relevant to the times. For instance, Captain America directors Joe and Anthony Russo aimed to make Steve Rogers a metaphor for the ups and downs faced by society. Luke Cage is also a character that's been used to convey social commentary. And based on what’s happening now, I think most would agree that 2011’s Contagion is now more relevant than ever.
It never hurts to plug audiences into what’s going on around them and, with Underwater, William Eubank does that swimmingly.
Underwater is now available on Digital, Blu-ray and DVD.