Movie Review: Blackfish

Blackfish is a well executed documentary that presents a damning case against keeping wild animals in activity, as well as a cautionary tale about human arrogance.

Shocking, never-before-seen footage and riveting interviews with trainers and experts manifest the orca’s extraordinary nature, the species’ cruel treatment in captivity over the last four decades, and the growing disillusionment of workers who were misled and endangered by the highly profitable sea-park industry. This emotionally wrenching, tautly structured story challenges us to consider our relationship to nature and reveals how little we humans have learned from these highly intelligent and enormously sentient fellow mammals. (c) Magnolia

Blackfish is one part classic tale of corporate greed, and one part lesson in the marine psychology of killer whales. It starts with an emotional argument, but has enough logic to make a powerful statement.

The documentary presents anecdotes from former trainers and combine it with archival footage. It traces the life of the infamous Tilikum from the time he was captured from the wild to his turbulent adulthood. Disillusioned and misled trainers unwittingly become accomplices to keep the business going, thinking that they have a special “relationship” with the animal.

This effectively shows that the killer whale’s so called psychosis is caused by his life as an animal entertainer, doing petty tricks while being kept in an environment that’s a poor substitute for his natural habitat.

The narrative branches out into other important points to further establish that these animals are not meant to be kept for amusement.

The documentary points out that killer whales or Orcas are sentient and intelligent creatures. It piles on evidence that attacks on trainers are not isolated events nor are they exclusive to Tilikum only. These are supported by facts, documentation, and statements from experts.

However the film is not without its flaws. The documentary stops at 2010, which fails to ground it in the present. The ending looks contrived.

Nonetheless, Blackfish is a powerful documentary that will make you rethink about the Sea Park industry, killer whales and animals in captivity, and our place as a specie. It’s not just about corporate greed or a call for empathy. It also shows the karmic effect of human arrogance.

My Rating: 8/10

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