The Cove

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A documentary by Louie Psihoyos. Rated PG.

These days, it’s pretty much assumed that dolphins are under some kind of international protection. But activist Ric O’Barry and National Geographic photographer Louie Psihoyos—here directing his first feature—are here to tell us that ain’t so.


Watch the trailer for The Cove.

Every year, fishermen herd thousands of dolphins into a cove near the Japanese town of Taiji. There, they sell off some of the luckless mammals to marine parks all over the world (including some in Canada). Then, bizarrely, they murder the rest for the pittance they can get by selling the mercury-tainted meat.

As this provocative, disturbing, and expertly made film makes clear, O’Barry feels partly responsible for kicking off the cycle of violent exploitation. He was the head wrangler for TV’s Flipper series, which popularized the notion of dolphins being here to entertain us. Later, he realized that their agreeable demeanour disguised the suffering they experience in captivity, and he began working (sometimes illegally) to free captured whales and dolphins. When he learned about the top-secret slaughter in Japan, he engaged Psihoyos to help document the crimes being committed there.

In the film’s most entertaining sections, a self-described Ocean’s 11 of skilled operatives sets out with sonar, night vision, and—my favourite—hollow, camera-holding rocks fashioned at Industrial Light & Magic in order to get a 3-D record of the animal Auschwitz. Our reward for this skullduggery is, of course, getting to witness what we didn’t want to know in the first place. In fact, The Cove—a shoo-in for an Oscar nomination—doesn’t dwell on the mayhem and is more concerned with the political corruption fuelled by this greedy form of self-destructive ignorance.

Watch for people decrying the movie (and its reviews) for attacking Japanese “culture”. But don’t be fooled—it’s just about the money.

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