My Octopus Teacher: You Wouldn’t Believe You Could Love a Cephalopod – Netflix Oscar Review

Seriously, this documentary makes you emotionally connect with the most alien animal.


This film depicts filmmaker Craig Foster spending a year of his life free-diving in the (apparently freezing) underwater kelp forest in False Bay, near Cape Town, South Africa. Foster began to document his dives and, eventually, discovered an octopus which was disguised as a pile of rocks. Intrigued, Foster started trying to track the octopus and win her trust. They eventually start to bond, with the octopus allowing Foster to be close to it and even touch it. As Foster watches the octopus battle for survival and move through the ocean, he describes how it impacts the way he views his relationships, learning from his relationship with one of the most unusual creatures on Earth.

Such a strange and beautiful landscape.


Octopuses are among the strangest creatures on Earth, often being the closest thing we have to an alien life form when considered from an anthropocentric viewpoint. Their body structure is completely different than any mammal, they have relatively high amounts of ammonia in almost all of their bodily fluids, and to top it all off they’ve got blue blood, three hearts, and a donut-shaped brain. They’re also among the smartest creatures on Earth, capable of navigating mazes, learning how to solve original problems, and capable of telling humans apart by sight (and thus holding grudges). There are countless stories of octopi messing with humans when kept in captivity and some species, like the mimic octopus or the common octopus shown in this film, are capable of using their surroundings for either defense, camouflage, or even offense. All of this is to say: Octopodes are freaking cool (alright, that’s all three plurals). 

There’s an octopus right in front of you.

This film starts off as a nature documentary and, at the beginning, there’s a decent amount of distance between the observer and the subject, particularly since Foster was unaware that he would find the octopus, much less continue to track it for months. However, in a surprising turn, the octopus starts to move closer to Foster, almost begging to befriend him. I cannot blame Foster for wanting to be more involved with the octopus, because, again, it’s freaking awesome. However, we also feel it when Foster is caught between his affection for the animal and his goal to stay objective, particularly when the octopus is in danger. You too will probably be feeling the extreme tension and emotional roller coasters that Foster experiences. You would not believe how much you’ll feel for the little cephalopod.

She’s so cute.

Overall, this is just a great documentary and I cannot recommend it more. Give it a watch.

If you want to check out some more by the Joker on the Sofa, check out the 100 Greatest TV Episodes of All TimeCollection of TV EpisodesCollection of Movie Reviews, or the Joker on the Sofa Reviews.

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