I wanted an outstanding site to add to my collection as my 500th review, and this is it. Waterlife has already won the Webby Award 2010, for best individual documentary; the SXSW Web Award 2010, and Best Cross-Platform Project at the Canadian New Media Awards, and the cinematographer of the movie it presents also won the Canadian Society of Cinematographers Award in the category of Best Documentary Cinematography.
This is a full-screen Flash site which features the movie of the same name, a full-length documentary exploring the Great Lakes, the last great supply of fresh drinking water in the world, and the effects and outcomes on this fragile environment which have been and continue to be caused by our society. Being associated with the National Film Board of Canada guarantees this is going to be something special, and it is.
The site prominently features a remarkable navigation system, which is comprised of tiny thumbnails of every scene here and which responds to the mouse by moving as if floating on the surface of water. Each selection causes the many tiny images to reform into a larger one, related to the title of the section you're about to view. There is also an animated menu to the side of the screen, which indexes scenes from the movie by subject, and if you still haven't found a method of navigation that you like, look at the bottom of the screen. Amazing. I *strongly* advise you to go full screen on this one, and you will find that the button to do so is the leftmost of a line of five buttons at the bottom right of the window, just above the word "share".
Narrated scenes from the movie are displayed full-screen with the option of overlaid text, and the accompanying music, which has been created by the likes of Philip Glass, Sigur Ros and Brian Eno, is just about perfect.
Given that this is effectively showing a movie in real time, the site has coped with the need to offer very low-resolution video pretty well. It worked fine on my 6 year old laptop. Where there is a need to fetch material, the downloading is just as fast as it could be. Very, very well done indeed.
I think I should describe this as a work of tragic poetic beauty, since, of course, mankind is systematically wrecking his own environment as usual. But there's always a slim hope, and we aren't going to change unless our consciousness is altered by work such as this.