I remember first seeing a preview for The Cove and thinking that it was going to be a frightening suspense film. I eventually realized it was a documentary, and after viewing the film I found it to be both frightening and suspenseful. The film follows Ric O'Barry (who originally trained the dolphins on television's Flipper) as he and his team try to uncover the truth about dolphin killings in a restricted cove in Taiji, Japan. The film is directed by Louie Psihoyos, a former photographer for National Geographic. The Cove won the Audience Award at the Sundance Film Festival in 2009 and has been nominated for the Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature. It is a must-see film that is provoking and disturbing. It left me with feelings of guilt, but it gives me tremendous hope that there are people in the world that are willing to fight against this injustice.
While the film is decidedly biased, it highlights some disturbing facts that the Japanese government refuses to acknowledge. The film states that 23 000 dolphins and porpoises are killed in Japan every year. In Taiji the fisherman lure the dolphins to the bay and set up nets to prevent them from escaping. In the morning there are buyers from aquariums across the world that come to purchase dolphins for as much as $150 000. The unsold dolphins are led to a secluded cove where they are killed and sold as meat. This cove is made inaccessible by gates and security guards. Ric O'Barry and his team devote an incredible amount of time and money to exposing Taiji's dolphin killings.
The Cove is a powerful film that acts like a spy thriller at times. It is engrossing from beginning to end, and while some of the scenes are difficult to watch, they are nonetheless crucial to the film's message. It is hard to believe that these fisherman are able to get away killing dolphins and that the town officials and Japanese government do nothing. The horror extends far beyond the dolphin killings because the dolphin meat that is sold contains a severely toxic amount of mercury. I have never been a huge fan of documentary films, and after watching The Cove I have decided that I need to explore this overlooked genre.
My rating: 4 stars out of 4.