love life of the octopus
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Friday 1/29/10

What creature exudes surreal, alien mystery in quite the same way as a cephalopod? Ambulatory on land and jet-powered in water, these brainy creatures change color and elude predators amidst clouds of ink. The surrealist pioneer of underwater filmmaking Jean Painleve captures their essence in his “Love Life of the Octopus” (1967, 14 min.). We’ll also show Steve Haddock & Brad Siebel’s “Baby Squid, Born Like Stars” (2006, 6 min.). Then we’ll explore cephalopod adaptations through the dissection of a Humboldt squid and make prints using squid ink. Special guests include Justin Holl from the Gulf of the Farallones Marine Sanctuary and printmaker Julie Whitcomb.

the films

"Love Life of the Octopus" (1967, 14 min.)
Jean Painleve

"To discover the films of Jean Painleve today is to be struck by a sense of having been deprived-of having missed the passionate Love Life of the Octopus in one's childhood-and to regret the absence of Painleve from film history canons.

The joy of experiencing these films, short cinematic gems that renew a sense of mystery and miracle of nature, is to unearth a still fertile root of cinema and the revelation that there are film hybrids yet to be realized. Looking back at Pinleve's filmic marvels suggests new and multiple directions forward and reminds us that cinema was scientific before it was fiction."

- Marina McDougall, from the book "Science is Fiction: The Films of Jean Painleve" (2000)

Information on the Criterion Collection DVD entitled "Science Is Fiction: 23 Films by Jean Painleve" can be found here.

"Baby Squid, Born Like Stars" (2006, 6 min)
Steve Haddock & Brad Siebel

"Baby Squid, Born Like Stars" liner notes, from Wholphin DVD magazine, issue #2. ( offers a downloadable version of "Baby Squid, Born Like Stars" for $1.99.)

Steve Haddock's bio at
Brad Siebel's bio at

Broody squid carry their eggs in their arms, New Scientist, 2005
Scientists' Discovery in the Deep Casts Some Squid Mothers in a Brighter Light, New York Times, 2005
Post-spawning egg care by a squid, Nature, 2005

special guests

Justin Holl & Peter Winch
our guest marine biologists, from the Gulf of the Farallones National Marine Sanctuary Visitor Center

Justin Holl can be reached at justin.holl (a)
Peter Winch can be reached at pwinch (a)

For more information on the Gulf of the Farallones, please visit the website of the National Marine Sanctuary, or it's non-profit partner, the Farallones Marine Sanctuary Association.

Julie Whitcomb