Blackfish Directed by Gabriela Cowperthwaite
Written by Gabriela Cowperthwaite and Eli B. Despres Magnolia Pictures
Rated PG-13 | 83 Minutes
Release Date: July 19, 2013 (Limited)
“Never Capture What You Can’t Control.”
Picture yourself at Sea World with your friends or family, and you are about to watch one of the many shows they have to offer. You are excited to see the famous killer whales as they show off some various tricks, which brings smile to everyone in the crowd. Things seem to be going well, although one of the whales appears to be distracted. And what happens next will stick with you for the rest of your life.
Blackfish is a documentary about one of those killer whales, Tilikum, who is responsible for the deaths of a three people. But this is not about showing how dangerous this animals are; rather, it’s a movie to show that when we take these smart, wild creatures and stick them in a confined areas in captivity, sometimes they get frustrated and accidents happen, including a few deaths.
We get various interviews from past employees/trainers, some of whom worked with Tilikum, as they give a behind the scenes look at how things work at Sea World, and talk about the cover ups and finger-pointing when something goes wrong. We also get a look at how the young whales are captured, an emotional story told by one of the men responsible, who was just doing his job, but felt something wasn’t right. They also throw in some animal experts who explain how smart and intelligent these creatures are, and how there has been no case of them killing humans in the wild, but why they would turn, after being kept in a small space, and in some cases, having their young ones or pack members (family or group) sent away and replaced by a whale they aren’t familiar with, which leads to some physical attacks or bullying.
But if places like Sea World know a certain whale has had previous instances, why would they still continue to put people’s lives in danger? And of course, this means a long court battle between Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and Sea World, which led to the trainers always being behind barriers from now on, although Sea World is appealing that ruling.
As you can tell, Blackfish does not paint a pretty picture for Sea World, and no big surprise that they did not want to be involved in any way with this movie. And this is one of the issues with this movie: It’s always nice to at least see or hear the other side of the story, but with most documentaries, you only get to see one side of the issue.
But having said all of that, from what I learned from this film, I now have no intention of ever going to Sea World again, and this is just another fine example of how horrible the human race can be at times. This is a very emotional film, and even though no tears were shed, I could sense I was on the verge a few times. It’s not a happy film, and one that is going to stick with you for awhile after you see it. This is a movie I highly recommend you see, and one that is going to lead to a nice discussion afterward. I have a feeling that this is going to end up in my personal top ten list of films for the year, and I expect it will earn an Oscar nomination, too.
And as an added bonus, here is a clip I found from an ABC News broadcast, which has some response from Sea World about the movie. It does have clips from the movie in the segment, so I guess be warned of possible spoilers.