JAGO- A Life Underwater, is an award-winning documentary, directed and produced by James Reed, also written by the latter and co-directed by James Morgan. It’s about Rohani, an 80-year old hunter who dives on a single breath down to great depth for several minutes.
A Sneak Peek To The Mesmeric Journey!
JAGO: A life underwater is a mesmeric journey into the world of Rohani, an 80-year-old Indonesian Bajau man who still lives his life spearfishing while free diving to astounding depths. Armed with nothing but his spear gun and a pair of goggles, Rohani dives to depths of up to 36.5 metres or 120 feet on a single breath. He hunts through corral cauldrons, running on the seabed in the darkened depths amongst the spirits of the sea.
The documentary has a minimalistic and haunting feel to it! As Rohani recounts his life story in simple terms, he explains “One day when I was just six years old. I went out playing beyond the graveyard. I remember seeing someone at the bottom of the sea. He was looking for something. Where did he come from? I didn’t get a chance to see. I just watched from a distance. But I couldn’t go there. I didn’t know how. It was too far. I couldn’t reach there. They may appear as men, seeking fish with their spears. But they are spirits, Spirits of the sea. In my heart I knew, I must go to the bottom of the sea.” And after diving to 20 fathoms his tribe gave him a new name,”they call him JAGO, the master” he explains. “source”
As we move on through the landscapes of the tropical seas, we see why he earned his name. As the story moves on we see a new character in that of a young tribe’s man. Again the camera work is out of this world as we see a fully accomplished Bajau spear fisherman leaping from corral spire to shell shorn sand before he dives to the darkened depths and runs along the seafloor. The sequence is all darting movement and sleek power, a dance between the currents pull and the hunter’s movement, while the old man explains in simple terms the joy of such pure mastery.
As the documentary draws to a close JAGO explains his mistake in life, of working on a Japanese trawler. He believes that he made the spirits of the sea angry by taking so much without respecting their world. We see nets tearing up the corral on the reefs and the emotion in Rohani’s eyes is heartbreaking as he describes the death of his only son, who he believes the spirits took for his mistakes. It’s hard to describe; a kind of sad yearning, an exquisite yet painful joy at the life of this man. His triumphs, tribulations and depths of despair are completely apparent through his the expressions on his face. The pathos is tangible and bittersweet. The cinematography in this documentary is truly stunning! The children free diving at the beginning fulfil the role of his childhood persona. The footage of Bajau children playing in the coral gardens is both amazing and endearing. One particular boy plays JAGO, and as the old man narrates, he dives in the shallower depths, greeting the clownfish through the turquoise-shaded shallows.
Travels and Tragedies!
“I left my village, Kabalutan,” he says, “I crossed the sea. This is the way of our people. To explore and seek experiences. If I had just stayed in Kabalutan, my experience wouldn’t have been complete. But because I travelled, I saw a lot of things and had plenty of experiences.” The Bajau people have been known to spend upwards of 5 hours a day underwater without the aid of scuba gear. They hunt using spear guns, and can dive to incredible depths. Rohani, in that sense, is also a standout. He tells of rupturing his eardrums as he dove to a depth of 20 fathoms — which is 120 feet below the surface. Many Bajau rupture their eardrums intentionally to let them dive to these depths.
He says of the sea spirits, “If we destroy the coral, they destroy us.” Most Bajau practice a religion that is ocean-based animism. Rohani remembers, as a boy, seeing a man walking along the bottom of the sea far beneath him. He was not a man — he was a sea spirit. JAGO is a look into a totally different life, a totally different world, and is a reminder that there is no one right way to live. Rohani is proud of his life and his reputation, and it’s hard to watch the movie and not feel a little jealous of the things he has seen. “When I sleep at sea,” he says, “I dream only of an underwater world.” What a life, what a world. “source”
As the music dwindles he speaks one final time!
They gave me the name Jago
My name is Rohani
A man of the sea