BY CHRISTOPHER HASKELL
AUGUST 3, 2013
Not since “The Cove” have I felt this strongly about a particular subject. It just so happens they are very similar, with “The Cove” delving into the capture and killing of dolphins in Japan. At the same time, “Blackfish” dives into the world of capturing orcas and training them to work at SeaWorld despite their eventual aggression. Gabriela Cowperthwaite does best in directing this documentary to collect all this data about these whales and their actions and put it into one place. The common denominator from most of the present interviews is that no one person had all the facts, apart from SeaWorld executives. They were never present in the documentary.
“Blackfish” follows Tilikum the whale’s timeline, culminating in an expert whale trainer’s death. In the process, Cowperthwaite uncovers some exciting and jaw-dropping evidence with tons of actual footage of killer whales attacking their trainers. She presents paperwork that over 70 incidents have occurred like this in the last 40 years and many interviews with experts that say that orcas in the wild have the same lifespan as humans (90-100 years). All this evidence then disproves SeaWorld’s claim that their average lifespan is 25-30 years because that’s how long they live in captivity, and being captured and placed in these tanks makes them live longer.
Cowperthwaite also does a great job making you understand more about these whales and even feeling for them. Majestic and extremely intelligent, the brains of killer whales are more developed than humans, especially in the parts dealing with emotions. To prove her point further, she uncovers that there are no recorded incidents of killer whales being aggressive to humans in the wild and that they are quite friendly, as displayed in many home videos of whales coming up to the side of boats. The more you look at these magnificent creatures, the more you understand the plight that all these former trainers and Cowperthwaite are going through to try and close the doors of SeaWorld. There are very few documentaries that I’ve seen that truly inspire change. But “Blackfish” will, if anything, help parents make a more educated decision in what they expose their children to, and in time, could hopefully show SeaWorld the errors of their ways.
July 19, 2013
(for mature thematic elements including disturbing and violent images)
James Earl Jones
Manuel V. Oteyza