Sunday, 18 August 2013

The Cove (2009) - ★★★★½

Director: Louie Psihoyos
Writer: Mark Monroe

The Cove won the Best Documentary Oscar at the 2009 Academy Awards, and it was a very well deserved win. It takes a special kind of film to evoke so much emotion out of me. By the end of the film, I was left speechless. There was so much that I wanted to say, but I couldn't, because I found it too hard to say anything without crying profusely. It's a very informative look at the cruelty towards dolphins, whether it be from captivity in aquariums, amusement parks, or the killing of them for meat. The primary focus of this film is to show the world the horrific slaughter of dolphins at a cove in Taijii, Japan. Not only do we see their suffering, but we hear their suffering too. It's one of the most powerful scenes in cinematic history, and a scene that moved me to tears.

We follow a team of dolphin protection activists led by Richard O'Barry. Their goal is to expose the horrific crimes of the Taijii fisherman to the world. They go as far as to expose the Japanese government's role in the dolphin hunting industry. It's an extremely tricky and difficult mission, for there are security guards, police officers, and fishermen that try to foil their work. Through a thrilling and extremely risky process, they manage to give us an inside look at the slaughter of dolphins in the cove. I knew what was coming, but nothing could have prepared me for the spine-chilling, cruel method that they use to kill these intelligent mammals. 

It's an extremely effective documentary. The first third of the film is interesting in its own right, because we're told briefly about the biology and intelligence of dolphins, and the people involved in the making of this film. The second part of the film was unbelievably thrilling. It was kind of like watching a film about espionage. It had a 'James Bond' feel to it. I couldn't even utter a smile or a laugh, because I was too distressed at the reason why they're doing this. 

The wash of dolphin blood in the cove left me speechless and in tears.
There was one scene that nearly made me cry my eyes out. The Japanese fishermen and security guards refused to allow the cameramen and activists come close to the cove. They had to film from the beach. What happened then is something I'll never forget. A lone dolphin swam over two nets, trying to escape the slaughter that was occurring over at the cove. There was blood leaking from its back as it swam to the shore. It took two deep breaths, then sank to its death. In my opinion, this was the most powerful scene in the film. 

One thing I cannot stand, and the reason I am deducting half a star from this documentary, is the blatant hypocrisy of the dolphin-activists. At times they're very melodramatic about their relationships with the dolphins, which causes them to be extremely passionate about their pain and suffering. There was one sequence in the film where they talked about the fishing industry in general, whilst we see a video of thousands of dead fish spread across the floor. They only talk about how overfishing causes detrimental impacts on humans, rather than the pain and suffering of the fish themselves. It's absolutely disgusting for them to nonchalantly talk about the killing of fish as if THAT's ok, but then have the double standard of saying it's never ok to kill a dolphin. I understand that fish makes up the majority of protein consumption around the world... but they don't even bother touching on the fact that the fish are living creatures that feel pain too. I know that their priority is with dolphins, but for activists against animal cruelty, maybe they should have a look at the fishing industries too. 

The killing of fish is 'ok' but dolphins is a big no-no! 
Even though I'm a little bit annoyed at their hypocrisy, I can't deny that this is an amazing documentary. It's one of the most truly heartbreaking movies ever made, and it really deserved the accolades that it received. One thing concerns me though. As soon as I finished watching this film, I looked up "What has happened since The Cove documentary?" I dug up barely any decent information. I know that they still slaughter dolphins at Taijii, but it has drastically decreased. The Cove may not have changed the world, but at least it accomplished something substantial and important. 

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