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The Cove (DVD)
Member Name: thedevilinme
The Cove (DVD)
Date: 30/05/11, updated on 07/06/11 (69 review reads)
Advantages: Telling documentry
Disadvantages: Gory bits
Won an Oscar
When we moan about high petrol prices we are effectively agreeing with Middle East oppression that keeps the price in our pumps low enough to enjoy the lifestyle and democracy we do in the west. The same can be said of watching a majestic Dolphin do amazing tricks at your holiday destination aquarium. We don't think about whether the dolphin is happy to be cooped up in the pool or doing tricks all day but because nature has awarded them a permanent smile we believe they are happy. It turns out they are not, the subject of this enthralling and rather sad tale of dolphins somewhat ambiguous treatment by man, and rather appallingly so in Japan, one or two of the dolphins rather enjoying the tsunami that swept in back in March, such is the barbarity towards them in the Japanese costal areas. Saying that it turns out Dolphins are just as nasty as men on their own patch, rape, violence and bullying nothing new in those beautiful schools of dolphins out in our pristine blue oceans. It seems we are all at it.
This Oscar winner (2010 Best Documentary Feature) centres on American Richard O'Barry, a man who captured and trained Dolphins for the TV show 'Flipper' back in the 1970s. He then help export that idea of dolphins being happy to entertain humans around the world to various Ocean aquariums after the popularity of the show exploded, and made a lot of money in the process. But here he is on a rather ironic journey, one of redemption through his film, spending the last 25 years of his life to help stop Dolphin captivity around the world for human pleasure. He says things changed when one of the five dolphins that played Flipper (Cathy) died in his arms, effectively committing suicide by refusing to go back under the water, this type of captivity too much for an animal that needs to cover 30 miles a day in the open ocean just to maintain its blubber and muscle mass to survive, hence those five Flippers in the four year run of the series.
The beginning of the film is the end of the dolphin's freedom, an infamous cove in Taiji, Japan where the animals are rounded up and slaughtered for cheap meat, if they don't meet the criteria to be captured and trained for the world's aquariums, the owners paying up to $170,000 each for the Bottlenose, the most popular around the world and the one with the set smile. Japan are not big on majestic sea creatures rights and will eat pretty much anything that doesn't breathe air - and anything that is not tasty they will kill anyway. It's what they have always done and no one can tell them any different. They did the same thing with whales in the 1970s and 80s as they are doing with dolphins right now and O'Barry is going to try and stop them, this film a strong slap around the face for Japan, some scenes quite disturbing as the ocean turns red at the end of the film.
The documentary opens at the cove where locals dependent on the lucrative dolphin industry guard their killing fields with top security; the beach and cove fenced off and guarded every night by the zealous fisherman, mostly from the threat of animal rights activist like O'Barry trying to film the unseen slaughter. Over the years people have got through and made their point but usually chased off by a man with a harpoon, anyone who dare film, filmed back and taunted into hitting the fisherman so they are banned for life from the cove by the Japanese authorities, the only objective. Money and greed always trumps everything for most men.
But O'Barry has a plan, to film the slaughter by hi-tec stealth, and with the help of experienced filmmakers they intend to sneak down their in the dead of night and hide and disguise cameras and microphones all across the bay, and under it, some shaped as rocks, others as shrubs, to bring the truth to the world. If they can achieve that then they can finally put a lid on the highly funded Japanese fisheries propaganda machine that pay off smaller countries that join the International Whaling Commission to back Japans controversial fishing quotas, a tactic that has helping to insert a loophole in the rules so Japan can catch whales and dolphins for 'scientific reasons, 23,000 caught last year alone on that absurd premise. Whale is a delicacy in Japan.
Dolphins, alas, are not, the meat seen as blue-collar gruel in Japan, and often toxic. Because Dolphins are at the top of the ocean food chain their eatable blubber is often full of the oceans toxins. Alarmingly, the fisherman were giving away dolphin meat to schools to earn favour with the local councils on the costal communities to turn a blind eye to the slaughter, putting the kids at risk to all manner of poisonous substances, including mercury, a practice which resulted in Manumits Disease, which killed thousands in Japan back in the 1950s and 60s through the same practices. At one point the Japanese fisheries even claimed that dolphins and whales were responsible for falling world fish stocks and so should be killed for that reason alone, Japan, the worlds biggest catchers of fish, of course! Again, the Japanese just don't care for the marine eco system.
Excellent documentaries like this only come about because we need to revere the subject matter and feel sympathy for it, dolphins adorned with many traits the humans have, why we love them. But they are not the highly intelligent animal we think they are, their appeal more about that fact they are self aware, able to learn basics tasks, something very few creatures can do. They still bang their heads and wear the wrong hats like Laurel & Hardy. The legend of swimmers and surfers being saved by dolphins from sharks just adds to the mystique, but the Dolphins really just asking us to leave the area like a bouncer. We value wildlife like us and the ones with the attributes we aspire to have. Wild Tigers fit that category, yet Tigers eat Indian farmer's everyday for fun.
But the real story of the rape of the ocean is mankind's commitment to capitalism, the need to consume and consume and not come up to the surface to take a breathe to let the oceans recover not in our mentality. The oceans are producing food so what's the problem? We are selfish. By 2050 the oceans fish stocks will have crashed, 78% of the third world still dependent on fish in their diet. But we collectively accept that we are going to ride that wave to destruction and that's the end of it, and if the Japanese are going to cull one of the oceans most beautiful creatures then they will get more stick than those who slaughter the ugly stuff in another country. We value the pursuit of protecting beauty over fixing poverty.
As we age guilt and regret gets the better of us and we try to correct our past mistakes. O Barry's quest is admirable but you do wonder if the people really want to see dolphins any different and happy to see them in the seaquariums. The fact this move barely made one million dollars in cinemas and on DVD backs that up, out of sight, out of mind the attitude, which is a shame. Refreshingly it was released in Japan although there were protests and it didn't get scene much, even US airbases too afraid to show it in fear of upsetting their hosts.
The film certainly has a big affect on you and the mindless slaughter of dolphins for meat that's pretty yucky is very sad. Yes some scenes were 'encouraged' and enhanced by both sides and they each wanted both to be taken in a bad light. The activist argue that dolphin killing is unnecessary and cruel whilst the Japanese say it's what they have always done and so will protect their industry. Not surprisingly the Japanese fishing industry was embarrassed by The Cove and 'pinged' a few PR and Legal drone strikes at the filmmakers.
Although this film is about that slaughter of an animal deemed to cute by the west to eat its also about Japanese pride and not be told by the rest of the world they cant, perhaps taking on what they see as humiliation the real reason why they go on killing things they don't really want to eat. Either way you should watch this to have your own opinion as the kill is going on right now and it's horrific, a different kind of red sun rising in Japans turbulent ocean shores. Although not remotely suitable for kids it is they who need to see exactly what is going on so to change this in the future. Sometimes you are just ashamed over your fellow man.
The Seattle Messenger -"A taut, thrilling documentary that plays out like a heist movie while never overshadowing its message or activist credentials"
The Times - "The great strength of this documentary about the covert killing of wild dolphins in Japan is its aesthetic: artful edits, zippy music, even a few jokes. Radical stuff for an eco-documentary"
The Australian - "One of the most suspenseful documentaries ever made, "The Cove" marries ecological espionage to a frightening domino effect of imperialism, political corruption and a socio-environmental disregard".
The Sun - "No Hollywood film, fiction or non-, can ever prepare you for the reality of what goes on in that cove. Please don't show this film to young children. Devastating and excellent".
Imdb.com - 8.5 out of 10.0 (12,876 votes)
Metacritc.com - 84% critic's approval (92% user's approval)
Rottentomatos.com - 96% critic's approval ratings (86% user's approval)
Summary: Slightly contrived
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