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The Cove - Movie Poster

2009 Documentary focusing on the capture and hunt of dolphines in Taiiji, Japan

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So Good - It Pissed Me Off

  • Aug 14, 2009
  • by
Let's get something straight.  I am not the knee-jerk reaction, activist type.  This movie made its case and I plan to write my first "activist" letter.

Most of the dolphins that you see at Seaworld and "swim with dolphin" types of venues are captured in the wild near the Japanese village of Taiiji.  This is a multi-billion dollar industry and when there are large amounts of money involved, bad things can happen.  One man has been fighting to free dolphins from captivity.

Richard O'Barry has been fighting the capture and hunt of dolphins for decades.  The ironic twist is that he was instrumental in building up the industry in the first place.  You see, Mr. O'Barry caught and trained the dolphins who starred in the TV series "Flipper".  His turning point was when one of the swam to him and intentionally took her last breath in his arms.  In his words, she committed suicide.  He further explains that dolphins are not 'auto-breathers' like humans and that every breath they take is a conscious decision and she chose to not take anymore breaths.  This is where his crusade against captivity began.  The film shows evidence not only of intelligence, but that the animals are self-aware and creative.

The Cove tells a great story and makes a great case.  This is important to a good documentary, but just as important is the trailer which puts butts in seats.  Here is the trailer for "The Cove"


I don't want to tell too much of their story as they do a great job, but I will break down the process that they used.

1.  They start out showing the conflict.  The end result is that there is something to hide and that makes the viewer WANT TO KNOW.

2.  We get a good dose of credibility and responsibility.  Telling the viewer about Mr. O'Barry's past gives HIM credibility.  Showing us how we've enjoyed this industry through Flipper and Seaworld and "swimming with dolphins" and other dolphin centric entertainment, that we are part of what needs to change.  It puts us in the responsibility seat without saying so.

3.  We are endeared to the animal.  A nice section of the film is with showcasing the intellect and self-awareness of the animal.  This leads to stories of connection with humans.  I went in saying if they have someone tell me a story about how a dolphin saved a human life from a shark and then show humans being cruel to dolphins, that I'd be pissed off.  You can tell from the title of this review what happened.

4.  They speculate as to what horror lies in the hidden cove that no one can see.  You mean they know where these mean people are hiding something to do with these amazing animals that this amazing man is trying to uncover?? Come on...I'm hooked and I think you might be too.

5.  The mission.  This is where this documentary turns into what I've never seen before.  Because the cove is so tightly guarded and access is cut off, they recruit a team to be a sort of military operation to uncover what is going on.  They will gain access to the prohibited areas and they will install these cameras.  Some cameras are underwater, others are disguised as rocks on land.  With the police following them all of the time, there is a bit of cloak and dagger intrigue added to this movie.

6.  The payoff.  Wow...you have to see it to believe it.  I needed to look away as some points.  The video evidence and the contradicting testimony by Japanese officials makes you want to jump into the screen and choke somebody.

7.  A call to action.  This is not a film that ends when the credits do.  This is a part of a larger plan to end the practice that is going on.  They want our help and they give out websites to find more information.  Even if you don't see the film, I'll give you the website of the film.


In summary, this was a well put together film that has the elements to entertain you, but at the same time it is a call-to-action documentary.  I know they did their job well, because they pissed me off and called me into action in an arena where my interest rarely travels.

What did you think of this review?

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April 02, 2010
I really, really want to see this but I'm afraid its going to make me cry!!
March 17, 2010
You said it perfectly! Who'd have thought people would capitalize on your love for something & turned that into a billion $ industry & even go to the extend to kill? Go write that activist letter of yours. Well, it's probably time for me to write a review on greed itself! :-) Btw, excellent review!
March 17, 2010
Thanks Sharrie. Let me know when you review "greed". I'm guessing that you'll be against it. ;)
March 17, 2010
The beauty of "Greed" lies in the overcoming of it & how one's deal with it after some deep introspection :)
February 05, 2010
This was amazing -- and the juxtaposition of O'Barry's role in creating the very industry that he's now trying to defeat was one of the most compelling twists I've seen in a documentary. Really well done - hope they get the Oscar they're nominated for! Great review - thx!
March 17, 2010
They GOT the Oscar! WOO HOO!
August 19, 2009
Now I can see why you recommended this one to me. It's of special interest to me because for a long time I was interested in working with orcas==not in in a Sea World context but in some sort of research or veterinary capacity. I saw my first orca in 1972 in Miami's Seaquarium. I went in at openning and just stood by the railing of his horribly small tank for about an hour and a half as he lay on his side staring back at me. I was less than awe struck. He had a scab over the end of his nose that must have been at least 8" in diameter. I later learned it was left on as a bandage for a wound he received from trying to swim through one of the windows in the lower portion of his tank. I found those windows when I decided to leave. So I went over to get a better look. He sank down to window level and it was a whole 'nother world then to be eye to eye with him like that. To know that he was really looking at you and not just in your direction. I couldn't help but wonder what he was thinking. It was almost show time and people came and crowded me out, but I founf another widow around the corner. And damned if that whale wasn't at that same window within1 minute! There's a lot more to this story but it tends to bore anyone who isn't me. The point is I spent the whole day with him, moving from place to place, just staring into his big watery eye like a lovesick puppy. I really think we made some kind of connection though. He died within 8 years, but at least he wasn't alone. They gave him a girl friend named Lolita.
March 17, 2010
Wow...how did I not respond to this before? Excellent addition to this topic.
March 18, 2010
The whale I was talking about got that big wound on the end of his snout by trying to swim through his thick window. He heard the calls of the female they later put in the tank with him even though she was hundreds of yards away in another tank. I've been thinking about them both a lot because of what happened at Sea World recently. The tank these 2 whales shared was tiny and filthy compared to the complex of tanks the Sea World pod occupies.
August 14, 2009
Wow, this video clip combined with your review are extremely compelling. Frankly, I'm worried about finding out what is going on, because it sounds really, really bad. Thanks for this review! Have you ever seen Whale Wars?  
March 17, 2010
I have not seen Whale Wars, but if it is a recommendation from you, then consider it....DONE!
More The Cove reviews
review by . December 28, 2010
posted in Movie Hype
**** out of ****      Richard O'Barry proposes the possibility that perhaps Dolphins are misleading creatures. In "The Cove", O'Barry even says that while Dolphins always appear to be smiling, on the inside they are constantly crying out for help. Maybe Dolphins do not know how to show emotions as we are. For example, if we woke up in a pool full of our own feces, we would yell for help. Dolphins can't do anything about it. And if they can't take it …
Quick Tip by . March 17, 2010
Your love for Flipper killed the many dolphins out there because that's a billion $ industry. Unbelievable?!
Quick Tip by . February 05, 2010
Effectively alarming - a must see! I'm so glad I'm aware of this now and can help to stop the atrocities. being committed in Taiji
About the reviewer
Jeff Daly ()
Ranked #46
Member Since: Jul 13, 2009
Last Login: Mar 4, 2013 03:52 PM UTC
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About this movie


 The Cove is a 2009 documentary film documenting the annual killing of more than 2,500 dolphins in a cove at Taiji, Wakayama in Japan.

The film was directed by former National Geographic photographer Louis Psihoyos, and was filmed secretly during 2007 using underwater microphones and high-definition cameras disguised as rocks.

It won the U.S. Audience Award at the 25th annual Sundance Film Festival in Park City, Utah, United States in January 2009. It was selected as one of 16 finalists from 879 submissions in the category.

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