Wednesday, December 30, 2009

The Cove - DVD Review


Starring Ric O'Barry.
Directed by Louie Psihoyos.

One caption this documentary can't claim: that no animals were harmed in the making of this film.

Ric O'Barry trained the dolphins on the TV show Flipper. He has spent the rest of his life regretting it. There's high demand for dolphins at Sea World-type amusement parks all over the world, and in the town of Taiji, Japan, fishermen can earn up to $150,000 per dolphin. What about the others they capture but do not sell? They kill them. By the thousands. Every year.

This is a closely guarded secret, and O'Barry, Psihoyos and their activist friends are determined to expose it, and this admittedly one-sided doc takes on an Ocean's 11 feel. They gather the experts then pull off the heist, except the heist is to plant some hidden cameras so they can capture what's really going on in that cove.

Unlike other activist docs where you get the feeling the makers are exaggerating or leaving key facts out, this one present its case very well. Dolphins are second to only humans as the smartest creatures on Earth. Dolphins have a poisonously high amount of mercury in their meat, and yet a DNA scientist takes samples from a Taiji grocery store and shows that dolphin meat is being labelled as something else and sold to the public. Japan is fighting to not only keep dolphins off the protected list from the International Whaling Commission but to lax it up on whales because "they eat too many fish."

Do they get the cameras hidden? It wouldn't be much of a movie if they didn't, and the sight of that blue water of the cove turn red with dolphin blood is one of the most memorable scenes of the year.

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