This is as far from a David Attenborough nature doc as it's possible to get. Msr Painleve is French, so these films are infused with a visual and verbal poetry and a wonderful sense of design (you the impression that you are looking into an aquarium most of the time rather than looking into the sea but this matters little).
He hung around with surrealists like Andre Breton and Luis Bunuel, so these films have more than a slight whiff of the surreal about them. The scenes showing an octupus crawling menacingly along a beach are one of the most surreal things I've seen, even though it's perfectly real!
Most of the films are underwater nature studies, but there is also a bizarre early claymation of the Bluebeard story and a couple of other curious.
Music fans should take note of this release. Pierre Henry scores one film - Duke Ellington another, and the early electronica really fits strange imagery on show. The bonus disk has the films stripped of commentary with a new soundtrack by Yo La Tengo, minimalist and instrumental, but still rather good.