The Cove (2009)

The Cove is a movie that has been getting a lot of critical acclaim in all the various film critic circles. This documentary may be in contention of winning the Oscar this year. I heard some blurbs about what the central story is but I want to be surprised about what I saw. I didn’t read any review, see the trailer or anything. I went into the documentary fresh, but the result is a heart-wrenching that makes you want to take immediate action.

Documentarian Louie Psihoyos wants the take the world on a journey that few have thread. He is the co-founder of the Oceanic Preservation Society with Jim Clark that funded this film. They are concerned about the state of the oceans and how they are deteriorating.

Louie is fascinated by Ric O’Barry, an outspoken dolphin advocate from the Earth Island Institute that is hated among his peers against speaking about a ritual in Japan that locals have known for centuries which is considered inhumane by most. There is a place where over 23,000 dolphins are brought in be slaughtered for food. Even though, most experts stress that dolphin meat contains high levels of mercury, the practice was still being done. Nobody in other cities in Japan know about the killings talking place in Taiji. They are horrified to hear the news.

Ric wants to expose the dolphin killing grounds to the world in order for the operation to be shut down. Psihoyos wanted to film the documentary through legal channels, but he got resistance from local officials.

His crews tactics are to wear masks all times to keep from being detected by the constant police presence around the area, to venture at night with hydrophones, a blimp shaped as dolphin, night vision and thermal cameras to where the dolphins are kept in Taiji, Japan. Louis had the ingenious idea of someone’s rigging the rocks with hi-def cameras so they could record what’s going on without getting arrested.

This whole crusade started with O’Barry time as a dolphin trainer on classic show, Flipper. Spending time with the dolphins made him realize that they should not be in captivity, trained as circus performers. They are intelligent creatures that deserve to be in the open ocean. Also with the suicide of “Flipper” aka Kathy in his arms turned his life around. He made it his life’s mission to correct what he has done and save the dolphins.

O’Barry relays the systematic process of wrangling up the dolphins, by creating loud sounds to stress them out, drive them towards the shore, and seal them there. The dolphins are picked out females for seaquariums or some for “swim with dolphins” programs around the world. The one left are taken to the secret cove to be slaughtered out of the public eye.

The International Whaling Commission (IWC) that doesn’t protect dolphins or porpoises banned whaling in 1986 except for a small loophole for killing for scientific purposes. People jumped on that bandwagon.

You might think that this is environmentalist propaganda, but you must watch it to feel the dolphins’ pain. Hearing the cries as they are taken in the cove, seeing the blue water turn red, and your heart is breaking when the cries suddenly go silent, it does something to you.

Judgment: Run, don’t walk to this movie. A must see.

Rating: ****1/2

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About Branden

Branden: I am just your average movie nut that reviews films. Gives his take on pop culture and Hollywood happenings. Dreams to have his own thriving website and make a living doing what he is passionate about.

Posted on January 6, 2010, in 2009, Academy Award Winner, Best Documentary, Documentary and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 4 Comments.

  1. Glad more people are seeing it. One of my top movies of the year.

  2. This movie is extremely persuasive, no doubt about it. But at the same time, there are a few mistakes that, for a documentary are unacceptable. Not to mention the lack of cultural sensitivity of the players in the film. While it was moving and I could identify with the activists the ‘white man’s burden’ish overtones present throughout the movie really bothered me. thoughts?

    • What are the mistakes that you saw in the movie? The people of Taiji were oblivious to what was happening. The dolphin think that they are right in killing them and that the activists are treading hollow ground.

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