Movie Review: ‘Blackfish’Published by Clay Cane on Monday, December 30, 2013 at 12:00 pm.
When I was a kid, I always gave SeaWorld commercials the side-eye. There was something unnatural about whales popping, dipping and spinning like they were in the club. This year’s Blackfish confirmed what many thought all along — humans and whales were being exploited for profit at the legendary theme park. Directed by Gabriela Cowperthwaite, Blackfish exposes the horrors “killer whales” endured as property of SeaWorld. In addition, the tragic stories of the trainers who were injured or killed due to the lack of safety precautions.
The documentary delivers the gruesome details of killer whales, also known as Orcas, in captivity. The wild animals suffered abuse, starvation, disfigurement and eventual death. Even if you are not an animal rights’ advocate, it’s hard to not be moved by Blackfish. Cowperthwaite’s telling of the story is sharp, educational and compelling. The use of interviews and archival footage presents hard-to-deny evidence of SeaWorld’s alleged misconduct, which resulted in several lawsuits against the company and, most recently, SeaWorld suing the creators of Blackfish. In a long statement, a rep from SeaWorld stated, “SeaWorld is a world leader in animal rescue. The millions of people who visit our parks each year make possible SeaWorld’s world-renowned work in rescue, rehabilitation and release … We have rescued more than 23,000 animals with the goal of treating and returning them to the wild.”
Blackfish’s argument is that killer whales should remain in the wild, not a theme park. Furthermore, the documentary turns the mirrors on us as the consumers and asks: Is entertainment more important than safety and compassion? Considering the controversy and response from the public (many musicians have vowed to never perform at SeaWorld again), Blackfish proves in our pseudo-reality, entertainment-hungry world that the art of documenting is not lost. Documentary films can still create change — and for SeaWorld, the perception of theme park is forever changed.