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- Blackfish (2013) reviewed by Emily Hoogenboom
Thursday, November 7, 2013
Cast: Tilikum, Dave Duffus, Samantha Berg, Dean Gomersall
Director: Gabriela Cowperthwaite
Synopsis: Blackfish is an independent film that follows the unique and life threatening behavioral patterns of whales held in captivity. Notorious tourist attraction and globally recognized venue, SeaWorld, has used their leverage as a fortune 500 company to cover up the truth of the devastating and shocking realities comparing the natural habitat to the captive areas at sea parks.
Reviewer’s Rating: 4/5
Gabriela Coperthwaite brings viewers and whale lovers the captivating story of Tilikum, the orca whale that has been on display at Sea World San Diego for over two decades. We experience heartache, loss, confusion, and concern for these creatures as the story unfolds.
The film opens to an incredibly sad story of the whales held in captivity that are followed in the film and have stories similar to Tilikum. Trainers and behavioral scientists talk about the patterns of a whale’s life that live in the big blue, in freedom. The story immediately breaks hearts as we observe the strong relational and family like creatures that these orcas truly are.
This film served as sorrowful entertainment with the trainer interviews, intense footage, and historical background on the animals. While the film is enticing, it has strong build ups and turns to the truth that has been covered up for decades. Trainers tell their disturbing stories of intimacy, fright, and love for Tilikum, and we begin to feel more emotion towards the orca.
When Dawn Branchea’s life was taken in 2010, Tilikum made headlines. But what most news broadcast viewers didn’t know was that this was the 3rd life that Tilikum had taken.
After declining to be a part of the film numerous times, it is obvious the way that the film is headed early on. SeaWorld has continuously covered up the dramatic events that involve Tilikum and his offspring.
With Tilikum as a clearly a moneymaker, bringing in ticket sales year round, their lack of presence is not surprising. Blackfish makes clear jabs at SeaWorld’s ignorance to the subject and how their public relations mops up every injury or death and places blame on the victim, not the actual killer.
The film reveals that Tilikum has been kept only for one sole purpose, his semen. However, the film goes even further and interviews trainers, scientists, behavioral scientists, and psychologists, who all agree that this is not just Tilikum and his genetic line are increasingly aggressive, but all orca whales held in captivity hold similar behavioral patterns.
The fascinating and heart-wrenching story of these whales is made with clear concise notions from the director, Gabriela Cowperthwaite. And although the film is concentrated on one side, there are many other stories about whales held in captivity that the film did not even address.
Despite the films ability to provide commentary for both sides of the argument, this film is worth the watch, making viewers more aware of the tragedy and growing hearts for the freedom of the whales.
By Emily Hoogenboom