Blackfish –sp  – Many of us have taken children to one of the Sea Worlds or other similar aquariums around the world and enjoyed with them the wonderful antics of the gigantic beautiful killer whales, known as orcas or blackfish, as they interacted with their talented trainers. This documentary film directed and written by Gabriela Cowperthwaite will change your understanding of that experience and may kill any desire to pay any such future visits. The film consists mainly of up close and personal interviews with several former Seaworld trainers intermixed with video clips of these killer whales (which can also  be properly identified as very large dolphins ) both in nature and in captivity. We come to understand that they actually are quite intelligent with larger and more complex brains than humans (seemingly in the part of the brain related to emotions), have methods of communicating by sound and are very family oriented as they exist in pods in nature. We follow the capture of one “small” baby whale, known as a calf as he is separated from this family much to their despair. This one is named Tilikum and we see video footage of him growing up and performing in captivity as we see others also in this position. They are trained by being confined to small places especially at night, rewarded by food (fish) or punished by the lack of it and molded into performing artists who seem to happily be interacting with their trainers to the delight of the public especially screaming appreciative children. Or are they?? We learn of some tragic “accidents” and see video clips of very clear incidents where trainers are injured and even one very experienced popular trainer, Dawn Branchaeau is actually viciously attacked and killed by Tilikum who is now the star of the show. It is suggested that we may be seeing frustrated dangerous animals who are living in unnatural circumstances. While the spokespersons for this multi billion-dollar industry has been trying to cover up and minimize these events, we learn of quite a different version. This film reminds us on one hand of the award wining film, The Cove. It may also be considered in the tradition of the great documentaries that first exposed the cigarette industry and certain aspects of the food or oil businesses. As in these cases, the things that have to be rectified don’t easily change. Just recently OSHA (the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration) successfully sued Sea World to keep trainers behind barriers during shows. However this may be a drop in the bucket in an attempt to return these beautiful creatures to their natural habitat. In fact, they are now being artificially inseminated and bred in captivity. The full story is yet to be written but this documentary will open your eyes.  (2013)

Category: 4 Stars, Documentary | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , One comment »

One Response to “Blackfish”

  1. Norman Levy

    Great review. I completly agree with what you said.

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