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.
**** 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 … more