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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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Dolphin Slaughter- Made in Japan.

  • Dec 28, 2010
**** 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 any longer, they will cut off their own blowholes. All of this is sad, but it's also true. "The Cove" is a truly triumphant piece of human filmmaking. It is also the best documentary I have ever seen, and the only one that evoked all the emotions of shock, distress, and sorrow from myself personally. "The Cove" does not merely strike the emotional chord through imagery; just hearing these people speak of such unfortunate mis-haps is enough to get me misty-eyed. I imagine that with "The Cove" being the outstanding film that it is, I will not be alone in my admiration for its emotional craft. But that's not the only place in which is earns its stripes. Perhaps "The Cove" is outstanding not only as an emotional documentary but also as a taut thriller. I say this because this film cleverly balances an equal amount of tears and fears. There are quiet moments of tension and then even quieter moments where we are touched, or even more likely, disturbed. When a movie aims to "disturb", it usually hints at it being "difficult to watch" or even "unwatchable". Is "The Cove" unwatchable? No, not at all. In fact, it is very much watchable. Maybe you'll have trouble looking away, but this film's hypnotic spell is hard to resist or escape, no matter how hard you try. And believe me, that is a good thing. You don't WANT to miss any of this film, despite how horrific it may be. I can't recommend "The Cove" to just anyone, though. It's much like other disturbing yet compelling films I have seen in my life-time; it's a hard choice between letting others discover it for their own or informing them of it first-hand. I don't know which one to do. But if you see this film, love it, and want to recommend it to someone for them to watch, then I advise you to use caution. Otherwise, definitely see "The Cove". It's the most emotionally powerful documentary I have ever seen, and should have been an easy contender for the big Oscar for 2009. It makes me wonder how the hell it wasn't. People are crazy.

Like most documentaries, "The Cove" is not composed of a straight-forward plot. It consistently jumps from side-facts and the exploits of the characters to the overall aim. "The Cove's" aim is to inform the world of the lies hidden beneath Japan's culture. In the town of Taiji Japan, there is a cove in which thousands-millions of Dolphins are slaughtered year-round. It's a horrific body count, and it's also the basis for the film's main point. "The Cove" is obviously saying one thing: Dolphin Slaughter is bad. But rather than being a generic one-sider (also, this reminds me that this film is entirely one-sided), "The Cove" takes documentary filmmaking to the next level. It doesn't "treat" us to the most gruesome depictions of dolphin slaughter until the very end, and in that particular "slaughter" sequence, emotion comes over pleasure. It's hard to imagine that a single human being will take pleasure into seeing dolphins get killed. It's a difficult thing to fathom, and even the sickest of bastards have to admit that. The best scenes in "The Cove" were obviously the ones that moved me the most, emotionally. Such scenes involved the "suicide" of a dolphin as well as an on-screen death of a baby dolphin which takes place within the cove itself. On the contrary, I actually enjoyed every scene that "The Cove" had to offer. While the little moments that I mentioned where the only ones which will never exit my head, everything else remains fascinating, horrific, and thoroughly insightful. You could even say that "The Cove" is often times exciting. Near the end of the film, the crew decides to go to the cove and night and plant security cameras among the rocks. This sequence is intense and reminds us of what a "true thriller" is. That is why "The Cove" is an awesome film; because it does what no other film has. You could even say that it accomplishes the impossible. Maybe it does. Who really knows? All I know is that it's an inspiring, emotional resonant piece of work that shall never be forgotten. It's worth seeing on all accounts.

Richard O'Barry leads the Documentary crew as the "expert" on all things pertaining to dolphins. O'Barry himself worked with one of the dolphins for the show "Flipper". The horrific aspect of this is that the dolphin committed suicide right in his arms by cutting off all oxygen. It never took that last breath. There is something about the way O'Barry explains all of this that is able to trigger some sort of emotional response from the audience (me in particular), and yes, his involvement counts as a performance on its own right. The entire crew does well at providing the audience a truly insightful and interesting documentary, complete with dialogue that's actually interesting! Joy! And you know what, even the menacing Japanese Dolphin Killers were good in their performances, and you know why: because they are heartless people and they made us believe it. I know that there is no such thing as true evil, and these men can not be called "evil". But does that make Dolphin Slaughter right? No, not at all. But they aren't evil men. Not quite.

"The Cove" does well at getting our attention. Not all of the attention is drawn through imagery, but the rest of it that isn't is drawn otherwise through suspense and a feeling of ominous sorrow. "The Cove" is a sad and horrific documentary to the core, and will shake even the bravest of men. It might even make you cry. But it's meant to do all of this. After all, "The Cove" exists to trigger an emotional response, and that is precisely what it does. It never slows down to let the viewer catch up, that is if they ever need to, which is doubtful. The film's soundtrack and imagery helps to move it upstream when it comes to emotions, and there's even a little bit of old fashion tension thrown in. Near the end of the film, it gets REALLY tense, and really fast. The film moves slow and fast at the same time, which should have been a poor combination by all means. But this time it's not. "The Cove" is a perfect mixture of intensity and precision, and it ends up being an honest and non-pretentious masterpiece of documentary filmmaking. O'Barry and his crew seemed to have made something that will forever be remembered as one of the best documentaries ever made; a film which SHOULD have been nominated for the Best Picture category at the Academy. But sadly, it didn't get all of what it deserved. "The Cove" has gotten an appropriate amount of recognition and praise, although not as much as I would have hoped. None the less, it is a film to be remembered and treasure. I guarantee that once you see it, "The Cove" will not easily fade from your memory.

If the footage shown in "The Cove" is all true, then I must applaud the filmmakers for capturing it. I would be pissed if this all turned out to be some kind of hoax or a fraud, although it's already been proven that none of it (the footage) was staged. I admire the fact that "The Cove" is completely real, and we feel that very sense of realism and fear throughout. The film makes us "feel" for dolphins as we never have before. I now feel somewhat more sympathetic about what and how they feel when we pet them while they are in captivity. "The Cove", while one-sided, will definitely change your mind about all of this. It will make you think that next time you pet a dolphin at Sea World; think about how it must feel to be all locked up. "The Cove" makes us feel the dolphin's sorrow and understand their position. It's as if the dolphins are telling half of the story here. If any of what I have described seems to appeal to you at all, then it probably will. "The Cove" is a powerhouse documentary; a sad, insightful, and intelligent film for the ages. I can't say that you will definitely enjoy watching it, but...ah, hell. Just watch it and you'll know how you feel about it. "The Cove" is one of those films that I just can't recommend to people, no matter how much I loved it. It's a one-sided film that seems to draw a line between exploitation and beautiful horror. The Dolphin Slaughter sequences in particular have been called "exploitation", although as I have delved deeper into such a world, I find nothing pertaining to the former. If it's meant to be art and emotional resonant, then how can it be "exploitation"? Keep that in mind before you pop "The Cove" into your DVD Player.

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December 30, 2010
I have been meaning to see this since it came out, great review.
December 31, 2010
Thanks. If you can get your hands on it AND you have the time, definitely see it.
More The Cove reviews
review by . August 14, 2009
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 …
Quick Tip by . March 17, 2010
posted in Green Living
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
Ryan J. Marshall ()
Ranked #11
It's very likely that the only kind of reviews I'll ever post here are movie reviews. I'm very passionate about film; and at this point, it pretty much controls my life. Film gives us a purpose; … more
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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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