The Cove (Louie Psihoyos) 2009

The Cove is a documentary about the harvesting of dolphins for amusement parks around the world.  The majority of these dolphins are caught in the coastal village of Taiji.  Only a few are selected and the rest are disposed in a hidden cove.  It is estimated that nearly 23,000 dolphins are slaughtered every year in this cove simply because they are not the proper type for all the Sea Worlds.  We follow Richard O’Barry, the man who popularized the dolphins in Flipper when he captured and trained the 5 dolphins for the show.  Now he has become the world’s biggest activist for defending dolphins.

This is a truly guerrilla style documentary to the point where the filmmakers are openly breaking the law to finish it.  See, the town council and fishermen won’t let anyone with a camera within miles of the cove.  The fishermen in particular just about assault the filmmakers every time they even catch glimpse of a camera.  A good portion of the film is about the filmmakers hatching a caper like plot in order to capture footage of this cove where they slaughter the dolphins.   Cameras are hidden in false rocks and underwater microphones are set up on different sides of the cove.

Now I am by no means a PETA member or a rabid animal lover.  I love eating most anything that swims in the water or crawls on four legs.  But even I was more than a little disgusted by this practice: mostly because the slaughter of these animals are pretty much pointless.  You could argue that their captivity isn’t that bad (although I feel what they are forced to do at places like Sea World is akin to chasing a rabbit on a mini bike till its heart explodes).  However the killing of the thousands of dolphins after is meaningless and well evil.  It’s not like you can eat the meat since it is so loaded with mercury you would be poisoned after a few helpings.  And there are no other uses for the animals or their meat besides thinning the population so the trainers can find better stock without weeding through previous rejected dolphins.  I’m all for killing animals when it serves an actual purpose but when we are decimating an entire species just so we can see a few dolphins play with balls at your local aquarium, that’s when my hackles are raised.

This movie is also a portrait of O’Barry who is shown as a tortured soul.  When he took the first five dolphins for Flipper he had no idea how he was going to change the world.  He pretty much blames himself for every dolphin that is killed and is as emotionally torn up as if he were the cause of another persons death.

There is a lot here to like about The Cove (despite the horrific subject matter).  The almost Caper like set up (almost like Man on Wire) keeps your interest and is not just talking heads.  There is a lot of information presented here touching on all aspects of this industry and the historical background that accompanies it.  As well as a heart felt portrayal of a guy that is racked with guilt over something he did over 40 years ago.  I really enjoyed this movie and I recommend it if you ever get the chance to.

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