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Blackfish

Posted by martinteller on December 31, 2013

When a bunch of people suddenly get behind a cause all at once, my cynical side kicks in.  I have a natural suspicion of bandwagons, and so as this film gathered more and more buzz — and more and more outrage about the subject matter — I reserved a bit of skepticism.  On the other hand, I’ve been to a SeaWorld.  While attending a conference in San Diego 15 years ago, a bunch of us went to see the show.  And my inner skeptic had a lot to say that day.  Rather than being entertained, I felt I was being fed a line of bullshit.  It just seems like common sense that you can’t pen up giant, intelligent whales and teach them tricks and expect them to be totally thrilled about it.  And really, while it’s possible that director Gabriela Cowperthwaite has some kind of agenda, some sort of chip on her shoulder, it seems highly unlikely that she or any of the interviewees are stretching the truth.  I’m far more inclined to believe that the SeaWorld representatives are the ones doing that.

So while none of this was very surprising, that doesn’t do much to quell my own sense of outrage.  And there’s so much to be outraged about, it’s hard to decide which of SeaWorld’s offenses is the most egregious.  Lying to the public about how much better off the whales are in their care?  Concealing the truth about Tilikum’s past accidents from the trainers?  Putting them in harm’s way on a daily basis?  Separating mothers of a highly social species from their young?  Denying connections to parks where other fatalities occurred?  The list goes on.

As a documentary, it lacks a certain flow, it feels pieced together without much thought to narrative progression.  It’s certainly competent, but it’s not an artful film, it never strays from convention.  But while not particularly cinematic or well-organized, it does get the information out there.  The world should be jumping on this bandwagon, and there should be more exposés of the shitty practices done by greedy corporations.  There was a scene in last night’s film, Philomena, where Judi Dench pities Steve Coogan for his anger.  I didn’t care for that.  Anger has a right and natural place in our lives.  Anger gets things done.  Bring on the outrage.  Rating: Very Good (80)

IMDb
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