Monday, September 28, 2009
The Horror of The Cove
The Cove is probably the most horrific film I've ever seen in my life and it is all real. Documenting the systematic slaughter and subsequent cover up of dolphin killing in a small village in Japan, The Cove tells the story of a determined group of men and women who plan to expose the killings to the world in order to stop them.
The titular cove.
A talented screenwriter would be hard pressed to come up with a better story that that of Ric O'Barry. Ric began as a dolphin trainer, working on the television show Flipper, but later became an activist against the captivity industry. The story of why he chose to leave that profitable, glamourous life behind is heart breaking and cannot be done just by me here. But by helping to create the demand for captured dolphins, he has dedicated his life to freeing as many as possible and the film begins with him in the small town of Taiji, in the Wakayama prefecture of Japan. He has found a secret cove where dolphins are driven en masse for capture and slaughter and he needs help to save them. But, as the filmmakers try to present all sides of the story, they find deeper levels of collusion between the Japanese government and the fishing industry, corruption of the International Whaling Commission, troubling environmental concerns, extreme health hazards to the Japanese citizens and the infinite possibilities of what dolphins might be able to teach to us.
I sat in the theatre, watching anxiously as the team infiltrated the cove and began to place recording devices in order to capture what they called 'the full orchestra.' And I nervously awaited their success because I questioned whether they would should the terrible, bloody images they had captured. But, I realized quickly that they would because of course, that was their purpose in making the movie. The sequence of the slaughter is one of the most saddening and infuriating pieces of film I've ever seen. The waters fill with a red hue that would rival anything in an Oliver Stone movie and the shrieks of the dolphins as they flail about helplessly in their death throes combine to leave you with thoughts that will stay in your mind long after you leave the theatre. For being a documentary, the film begins like any other, but quickly shifts to a spy thriller before becoming a horror flick.
Make no mistake either, the film is very well made. Combining archival footage with night and thermal vision cameras, an excellent score and very clever editing, the movie uses its medium to drive home the carnage on display. You will begin to question, as I did, your karaoke/sushi nights if for no other reason than your own health. The film is not without its detractors who would have you believe any number of things from the biased editing, inflated numbers of dolphin deaths or the fact that none of these events ever occurred until the Western filmmakers arrived in Taiji. But, I urge you to see the film for yourself and come to your own conclusions. It might motivate you to do some more research for yourself, as I did, which lead me to Ric's website. Read more to find out what has happened in Taiji after the movie's release.