The Cove

WOW. This weekend I watched “The Cove” documentary, which won the Oscar for the Best Documentary of 2009, and I still can’t get over it.  With an Oscar to its name, I had pretty high expectations for a documentary described as “Flipper meets the Bourne Identity.”  It had all the makings of a powerful documentary, with enough undercover action, drama, blood and gore for the American audience… no surprise that it beat out other, more mellow nominees such as “Beetle Queen Conquers Tokyo.”  Also set in Japan, “Beetle Queen” was written and directed by family friend JESSICA ORECK and is worthy of the Oscar nod.  More on her documentary later, but as for The Cove, it certainly exceeded even my own high expectations.

“The Cove” exposes the revolting slaughter of 23.000 dolphins annually in Japan.  Throughout the film, the activists discuss that “top secret” happenings going on in a secluded cove in Taiji, Japan.  Yet the words pail in comparison to watching underwater footage of the sea turning a blood red as the dolphins are brutally killed.  Who in their right mind would kill dolphins, those cute lovable, smiling, laughing creatures?  They are surfer’s best friends in the water, children’s favorite animal at sea world, and considered one of the world’s most intelligent creature by biologists.  Ironically, their cuteness and intelligence has been their pitfall, as they fetch up 150-200,000 dollars on the international market when used for tourism.  (Think “swim with the dolphin” programs in Mexico, Hawaii, the Bahamas, Sea World etc…).  Yet the dolphins not selected for a life of captivity are brutally murdered, hundreds at a time, to be sold as meat.  In another turn of irony, dolphin meat is practically pure poison given the high amounts of mercury found it contains.  This is not a deterrent for fishermen who mislabel the meat in order to sell it as whale which has a much higher market price.  Clearly when there is money to be made, there are laws to be broken, morals to be cast aside, and atrocities to be committed…

The Cove provides historical and cultural context for the dolphin slaughter, which is HUGELY important in order to present a convincing, balanced argument.  It explores all aspects of this horror in order to leave the viewer with one startling conclusion:  there is NO justification for the slaughter.  The documentary does not lose the “human element” that is so crucial to establishing a viewer connection… the viewer is moved by the passion of Richard O’Barry, who has dedicated his life to saving dolphins.  Like any good plot, the “bad” guys (aka the Japanese fishermen, police and town officials) do their best to stop the “good” guys, aka O’Barry’s team (environmentalists, surfers, free divers, tech experts, all with a touch of “badass” dedication).  Beyond Good vs. Bad, the film itself is an act of heroism, it takes us  into some rather dangerous and “heavy waters” (excuse the pun)  — and the result is some harrowing footage that you must see to believe.  Getting a little nauseous is a given, but it’s necessary just so you’ll get a little outraged.

The fact that, unlike other documentaries of a past event, this slaughter is still occurring annually, makes this documentary especially moving and relevant.  This is a film for anyone that is passionate about global events, the environment, animal rights, sustainability, food consumption, international law and politics, marine life, and activism.  It is my hope that EVERYONE fits into one of these categories, and that people get inspired by this documentary.  The fact that it is still occurring means that we can still STOP this event.  The fact that a group of people risked their lives to give this cause the attention it deserves should encourage everyone to dedicate 2 hours to watching this movie.  What you decide to do after is up to you… but remember, there are only 2 types of people in this world: those who choose to be active, and those who choose to do nothing.  Even if you are moved by this documentary, by being inactive, you are supporting this event.  By going to Sea World down the street, you are supporting the killing of 23,000 dolphins a year.

The bottom line isn’t to scare, to nauseate or to bully people into believing certain things, or taking certain action.  The bottom line is that we need to STOP BEING IGNORANT to the world around us.  We need to be aware of the consequences of our choices, which is the ultimate function of the movie.  The documentary doesn’t tell us what to do, but leaves us with a truly “bloody” consciousness that perhaps will inspire a few more people to stand up for what they believe in, or at least have a greater understanding of the world around us.

Anyways, great documentary.  I’ll give it full 5-stars on my documentary review… well worth the time, money and then some!

Watch the trailer:  

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