Blackfish

"Excellent"

Blackfish Review


A chilling exploration of the life of an orca in captivity, this documentary forces us to look at zoos and especially aquarium shows in a completely new light. Rather than a more comprehensive exploration of animal mistreatment, this is a specific story that encompasses some truly horrific incidents. And while the filmmakers clearly show that these things are caused by animal abuse, no one is willing to accept the blame.

The orca in question is Tilikum, and we follow his life from capture in the North Pacific. He's first sent to an aquarium in Vancouver, where he was viciously abused by both his human trainers and the two female orcas living there. When he killed a young trainer in frustration, he was sent to SeaWorld in Orlando, where no one was informed about his dangerous past. He went on to injure and kill several more people, which SeaWorld continually spun as trainer error so they could keep Tilikum as the big-whale finale in their shows while selling his sperm to other parks. But all of his actions can be traced to psychological trauma.

The key fact here is that orcas aren't actually killer whales at all. They are peaceful creatures who live in family units for life, communicate with a complexity that humans can't comprehend and display extremely strong emotional lives. Filmmaker Cowperthwaite talks to a wide range of trainers and experts who have studied these animals and are horrified by their treatment in aquariums: these creatures are born to swim vast distances in close-knit groups, not to be isolated in tiny pools. Tellingly, orcas live twice as long in the open sea as they do in captivity. Of course, SeaWorld refused to be interviewed for the film.

Expertly assembled, this documentary illustrates every comment with archival footage and firsthand accounts. Thankfully it cuts away from the worst violence, although we see enough to be deeply disturbed, not by Tilikum's sometimes fatal actions but by the wilful misconduct of officials who refuse to acknowledge their own cruelty. Tilikum's systematic abuse since early childhood has left him without social skills, so his actions are an expression of confusion and frustration. Hopefully this film will force SeaWorld to admit the truth and give Tilikum to a peaceful retirement. And to treat its animals with more respect.



Blackfish

Facts and Figures

Genre: Documentaries

Run time: 83 mins

In Theaters: Friday 18th October 2013

Box Office USA: $2.1M

Distributed by: Magnolia Pictures

Production compaines: Manny O Productions, Magnolia Pictures

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 4 / 5

Rotten Tomatoes: 98%
Fresh: 117 Rotten: 2

IMDB: 8.1 / 10

Cast & Crew

Director: Gabriela Cowperthwaite

Producer: Manuel Oteyza

Starring: Kim Ashdown as Herself, Ken Balcomb as Himself, Samantha Berg as Herself, John Hargrove as Himself - Former SeaWorld Trainer, Mark Simmons as Himself - Former SeaWorld Trainer, Dean Gomersall as Himself - Former SeaWorld Trainer, as Himself (archive footage)

Contactmusic


Links



Advertisement

Contactmusic 2017 Exclusive

New Movies

Life Movie Review

Life Movie Review

Like a mash-up of Alien and Gravity, this ripping sci-fi horror movie is very effective...

The Lost City of Z Movie Review

The Lost City of Z Movie Review

Based on a true story, it's the historical aspect of these events that holds the...

Chips Movie Review

Chips Movie Review

It's clear from the very start that this movie has little to do with the...

Beauty And The Beast Movie Review

Beauty And The Beast Movie Review

This remake of Disney's 1991 classic is remarkably faithful, using present-day digital animation effects to...

The Salesman Movie Review

The Salesman Movie Review

Iranian filmmaker Asghar Farhadi won his second Oscar with this astute drama which, like 2011's...

Get Out Movie Review

Get Out Movie Review

Leave it to a comedian to make one of the scariest movies in recent memory....

Personal Shopper Movie Review

Personal Shopper Movie Review

After winning a series of major awards for her role in Olivier Assayas' Clouds of...

Advertisement
Certain Women Movie Review

Certain Women Movie Review

In films like Wendy and Lucy and Meek's Cutoff, writer-director Kelly Reichardt has told sharply...

Kong: Skull Island Movie Review

Kong: Skull Island Movie Review

After the success of 2014's Godzilla reboot, the Warner Bros monsters get their own franchise,...

Viceroy's House Movie Review

Viceroy's House Movie Review

Filmmaker Gurinder Chada (Bend It Like Beckham) draws on her own family history to explore...

Trespass Against Us Movie Review

Trespass Against Us Movie Review

With an extra dose of attitude and energy, this Irish comedy-drama hits us like a...

Logan Movie Review

Logan Movie Review

Hugh Jackman returns to his signature role one last time (so he says), reuniting with...

Patriots Day Movie Review

Patriots Day Movie Review

The third time's a charm for Mark Wahlberg and director Peter Berg, who previously teamed...

A Cure for Wellness Movie Review

A Cure for Wellness Movie Review

It's no surprise that this creep-out horror thriller is packed with whizzy visual invention, since...

Advertisement
Artists
Actors
    Filmmakers
      Artists
      Bands
        Musicians
          Artists
          Celebrities
             
              Artists
              Interviews
                musicians & bands in the news
                  actors & filmmakers in the news
                    celebrities in the news

                      Go Back in Time using our News archive to see what happened on a particular day in the past.