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One-sided? Yes. Superbly crafted? Most certainly. A practical joke or
fantastically manufactured lie? Despite what many of the conspiracy
theorists here would tell you, no, it is not.
The campaigning elements of the film may not sit well with some people, but the facts are the facts, and there's simply no denying the emotional impact this film has. It is a prime example of constructed film-making with an overt agenda, filled with elements that at time make it feel like a heist movie or spy thriller.
Having said that, there's no doubting just how real the horrors are. The annual slaughter of thousands of dolphins in an isolated cove near Taiji is sickening, heart-wrenching and unnecessary. After select dolphins are taken for the world's aquariums, the rest are left for brutal and barbaric butchering. I for one appreciate the risks taken by the film makers in attempting to get this story out, and I would place good money on this documentary being a front-runner for next year's Oscars.
One of the marks of a powerful documentary is the response it generates from the hordes of nay Sayers. Some of the absurdly laughable comments listed here on IMDb are begging to be called out and exposed for the pathetic lies that they are.
Conspiracy theory/lie no.1: The premise of dolphins being slaughtered en masse in Taiji is a complete fabrication.
This belongs in the same volume of crackpot collections as those who deny the dangers of global warming. It is indeed real, and there is a plethora of information available to anyone with 3rd grade research skills. An article by Minoru Matsutani appeared in the Japan Times on Sept 23rd this year covering the issues raised in The Cove. The practice of mass dolphin slaying is indeed confirmed.
Falsehood no.2: That the scenes from Taiji's infamous cove were in fact filmed in Ottawa.
People will fabricate lies without any thought of at least giving the lie some credibility. There is no evidence to support this ridiculous claim. And having personally travelled along the east coast of Honshu in 2001, I can tell you that this is indeed filmed in Taiji.
Falsehood no.3: Dolphins are not native to Japan.
Wrong. Dead wrong. Bottlenose dolphins, for one, inhabit all warm temperate seas worldwide including Japan. In fact, Mikura Island has a permanent colony of bottlenose dolphins.
I'm utterly delighted that this film is stirring up so much emotion, as this is exactly what is needed to spark change. Most people in Japan aren't even aware of this atrocity, and had it not been for this film, I seriously doubt many of them would have ever known.
Something tells me that this heartbreaking documentary is going to stay with me for a long, long time. This movie depicts in painful detail the horrors of dolphin fishing (yes, you heard me right) which has been occurring for a long time in a secretive place called Taiji in Japan. How secretive? Even the common Japanese do not know that it is taking place in their country. The film takes its time in unfolding the horrors and conspiracy layer by layer and ends with a bang. It plays out like a suspense thriller but is far more effective than any suspense thrillers because this takes place in real life. I certainly will do my best to promote it to the others and support the cause. The direction is fantastic and several underwater shots seem to be taken right off Earth or National Geographic, which looks great on the big screen. This documentary has been made by activists that have been crying out loud to deaf ears for the past three decades. I am certain that this is not the last we will hear of it. This film should certainly make an impact and change a few things in the world.
It saddens me to watch The Cove, because unless your heart is made of
stone, it's unlikely not to become unaffected by it, when it shows how
evil man can be. It also boggles the mind when you mull over whether
the perpetrators know exactly what they're doing in committing such
atrocities, that extinction of species boil down to those who are
indifferent, inhumane, and corrupted by the smell of profits that
highlights Man's propensity for destruction. To claim superiority over
another by explanation of the preservation of culture, is bullshit at
best, and it just shows how consciously ignorant we can sometimes get
due to either lack of understanding, or just simply refusing to change
I'm sure many of us will agree that dolphins are very beautiful water-based mammals, and the lucky few who have gotten to chance upon them in their natural habitat will attest to the fact that it's awe-inspiring to have seen them in action. From time to time we read about the heroic nature of our mammal counterparts in saving human lives, so what would warrant such untold cruelties toward those blessed by Nature with a smile and an extremely gentle, docile nature, or cursed as the filmmakers would say, because they are unable to project outwardly their feelings of pain, sadness and betrayal by humankind?
Director Louie Psihoyos had crafted an incredible documentary which isn't just another save- this-species film, or just another wildlife conservation flick. Somehow, The Cove stands above those that I've seen which have run along those lines, in that it contains footages that the team had managed to wrangle out in a quest for the truth. It contains scenes of murder most foul, which will start again in the month of September, unless people around the world make some noise beyond puppet worldwide organizations fueled by corrupt bureaucrats bent on smug thinking that half-baked nonsensical answers can keep the truth under wraps.
What also added that emotional weight to the film, is the inclusion of Richard O'Barry, who could be infamously credited with sparking the interest in dolphin-aquariums and shows around the world, simply because of his involvement in the Flipper television series, where he had responsibility in capturing and training 5 dolphins used for that successful series, and henceforth spawned an industry of sorts where dolphins are captured en masse by confusing them and leading them into man-made traps, then allowing trainers around the world to come and choose those with potential. Think of it like the slave trade which we have abhorred, but now transferred to the animal kingdom, with a murderous act of slaughtering thousands of those which don't make the theme-park cut. Who are we to decide those that cannot entertain, only deserves to be chopped up in cold blood for the supermarkets?
O'Barry is now an activist set on releasing every dolphin in captivity, but only because of a personal, profound loss of a dolphin in his arms that have jolted him into action. He's quite forthright in his interviews, and his transformation as explained is nothing less than heart- wrenching. His crusade led him to Taiji, Japan, which is the source of the trade, with over- zealous Japanese fishermen bordering on counter-surveillance, muscling in on local police influence, to try and keep O'Barry at bay from interrupting their profitable trade, and of course putting a dampener on O'Barry's search for redemption.
Most of the film then centered on the filmmakers and their assembling of a few good men and women with specific skill sets, such as free-diving and prop-making, acoustics experts to covert camera operations, in an attempt to expose the truth from The Cove, an area designed by natural geography and exploited by the fishermen to perform their most heinous acts. It's akin to a heist movie with intense preparation work and danger lurking around every corner, but the images obtained are nothing less than shocking the indiscriminate slaughter without remorse and plenty of laughter, a very affecting sea waters filled with red from the bloodbath, and frenetic cries for help and unsuccessful flight from death. It'll make the most stoic of men, shed tears.
The film also had touched upon another aspect of how Man is offending Nature through our polluting ways, but Psihoyos deftly included that portion in because it's also related, but never letting it detract its focus from the main story. While dolphin meat doesn't appeal, being slyly packaged as something else is nothing less than cheating. Also, the high levels of mercury found in the meat not only endangers whoever is putting it on their dinner plate, but just emphasizes the entire polluted food chain with the fact that we are the #1 pollutants on this planet, and poisoning of marine life, or rapid consumption of food from the sea, is something that will impact us in time to come very soon, unless we wake up.
One of the world's most intelligent creatures getting slaughtered indiscriminately, and you can do something about it. Undoubtedly as a film this is very well made, and have received countless of accolades, but if audiences were to stop at this point then nothing will change and everything will be lost, starting from the efforts from the activists. This film is set to break into my top films of the year as well, but even that rings hollow.
What we can do, at the very least, is to vote with our wallet. Make some noise, talk about it, spread the word and get people go watch the film, and take affirmative action. With demand and attendances to sea-world-like or dolphin theme parks come crashing down because we choose not to patronize them, then demand for dolphins to perform at these locations will no longer be viable.
Enough has been said about this excellent documentary, but I wanted to comment on the negative responses, some of which are posted here and which also can be read on the message board. If you have not seen this movie, DON'T PAY ANY ATTENTION to the moronic comments, view this film and judge for yourself. If you are an intelligent, caring person, concerned about the environment and the animals, you must see this documentary. The film was made with great risks involved and all who took part in making it have to be commended for their courage and desire to show the truth. I saw the film several days ago and I cannot get it out of my head. It is the most disturbing film I have seen since "The Witness" (not to be confused with the one starring Harrison Ford). When I saw the movie, the theatre was practically empty, and that was disappointing because people should be made aware of the horrors documented in this film.
This is an important movie, not only because of the content matter, but
also because it demonstrates the capacity for people to care with such
passion and conviction. The movie is cleverly presented, taking you on
an emotional and eye-opening journey, and building to a powerful
I personally found the movie to be moving and beautiful, and by far one of the most exciting and powerful documentaries I have ever seen. I am hugely impressed by the film makers ability to translate their experiences and passion into a very well made movie, and hope they inspire others to do the same.
I believe it is a disgrace for culture as Japan's to slaughter
There are many voices here, that claim that we should make another documentary's on cows, pigs etc. Of course, you are more than welcome to do that. That's the freedom of speech and opinion.
I believe this movie shapes our awareness on what goes on in the world. And of course, there are many more terrifying things that happen everywhere every day, but we should not use that fact as a justification for not taking any action.
We came to this world to leave it as a better place. I don't have much money, but I can sign the petition against dolphins' slaughter and hope that my voice can make a difference.
The movie is very interesting and strong. It's powerful.
Words can hardly describe how powerful this documentary is, and the
lengths to which human cruelty can extend to. Louie Psihoyos and his
team infiltrate a secret cove near Taiji, Japan and expose a brutal
instance of animal cruelty. This film opens your eyes to the truly
devastating fates of thousands of dolphins, who are slaughtered without
remorse.Being an animal lover, and my dream to become a zoologist, this
film has really inspired me to be active and do whatever necessary to
protect the beauty of our planet. Alongside Ric O Barry, Psihoyos is
able to clearly point out the error of these marvelous creatures in
captivity, and how they deserve to be free, just like any other
If you are one of those people that see my ways, then you'll be affected deeply too to take action. Forget the damn critics, this isn't a Hollywood blockbuster, this is a way of life for us and what we've become...what we've turned into.
Support the cause to stop this.
The Cove begins in Taji, Japan where we first meet former dolphin
trainer Ric O'Barry. O'Barry was the man responsible for capturing and
training the five dolphins that played Flipper in the international TV
sensation. When the cast and crew went away, it was O'Barry who
remained on the set, he lived in the famous house on the lake with the
dolphins until the shows end. It was here he learned how sensitive,
self-aware, and highly intelligent these creatures are, and more
importantly how harmful it was to keep them in captivity. One fateful
day his dolphin Katherine, committed suicide in his arms. Every breath
a dolphin takes is an intentional, conscience effort, Katherine laid in
his arms, took one breath and went under forever. This was the catalyst
for Ric O'Barry's journey, to undue what he created, to stop the
capture and captivity of dolphins world wide. Sound like a typical
"save the whales" boring documentary? This is not your granddaddy's
documentary! The Cove unfolds more like a spy thriller than a hug the
trees documentary, think James Bond meets Jacques Cousteau .
Ground Zero is Taji, Japan. From the outside the town seems to be devoted to the majestic creatures swimming off it's shores. Statues are erected, boats designed to look like dolphins cruise the shore, and a whale museum is the pinnacle of the town. But in a remote area we find a cove surrounded by barbed wire, keep out signs and security, it is here that the town's dark secret lies. Every year from September to March, fisherman motivated by the multi billion dollar dolphin trading industry and an underground market for mercury-tainted dolphin meat, gather in this cove for the hunt. How this hunt is conducted is so grossly inhumane and dangerous to human health, that the fishermen go to great lengths, even murder, to keep anyone from seeing it. Ric O'Barry needed someone who could put together a team to infiltrate the cove. In walks filmmaker Louis Psihoyos and the Ocean Preservation Society. With the local authorities tipped off to the project, the filmmakers put together an Oceans11 style team. The cast of characters include a Hollywood special effects artist, two world champion free divers, an adrenaline junkie, and an electronic expert from the Canadian Air Force. Their mission: to plant and recover the HD cameras on the cove and under water. To get past guards and police they conducted missions in the middle of the night using diversionary techniques and military grade high definition cameras that picked up on body heat. The husband and wife free diving team placed the cameras under water while the adrenaline junkies scaled the rocky face of the cove to plant the cameras in fake rocks. Several times we see the team seconds away from being caught. Their efforts paid off in a big way, the audience is taken into the cove to see first hand the horrors that happen there. The footage is some of the most powerful imagery I have seen.
This gorilla journalism style of film-making may be what we need to spark the interest of the new generation. I believe this documentary may spawn a new uprising in the "save the whale" movement, starting with shutting down the cove in Taji, Japan. The Cove infiltrated my dreams the night I saw it, that never happens to this jaded Angelino. This film will stay with you and it will make you want to help the cause. 23,000 dolphins are due to be hunted and executed starting in September, what will you do to stop it? The Cove opens in select cities August 7th.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
'The Cove' should be more bewildering to watch in its cultural context
than for the subject matter it deals with. For me, the questionable
approach of this film outweighs its ecological importance.
The exposition of the film presents environmentalist Ric O'Barry. As dolphin trainer for the 'Flipper' TV series, he felt responsible for what he calls the 'captivity industry' based on the desire to be close to dolphins which was inspired by the series. His emotional involvement makes perfect sense when he describes how the original 'Flipper' committed suicide. His focus on Taiji also makes sense as the town is explained to be the largest supplier of dolphins for maritime parks, which also means that it is here where dolphins are herded for slaughter.
In Taiji, the film starts to feel difficult. Japanese interviewees only speak awkward English which sounds automatically evasive. One would think that with a project like this there would be a translator involved. The Americans are being followed around by local people who try to provoke them into violent action so that they can have them arrested. I think it's not exactly hard to understand this defensive behavior when strangers in a rural community are so obviously up to something. O'Barry asks about missing activities of Japanese outlets of environmental organizations like Greenpeace but there are no representatives, just 'Whale Wars' host and Sea Shepherd CEO Paul Watson, i.e. yet another American.
There is some theorizing on why the Japanese government allows or encourages the trading and slaughter of dolphins to happen. It is claimed that mercury-tainted dolphin meat is being sold off cheap in supermarkets under different labels. This is linked to the Minamata-Disease scandal of the 60s, stating that the government would try anything to hush up any similar case. While it certainly true that Japan's government exerts a lot of pressure on the media, Japanese journalism is a competitive industry as elsewhere, sensationalist and driven enough to grab an opportunity to expose a scandal.
The quantity in question (23'000 annual catch of dolphins at a selling price of $500 each means a commerce of 11.5$ million) isn't enough to build up lobbying power. It is therefore suggested that the government support for an uneconomic industry like whaling is a remnant of nationalistic pride of imperial times; Japan tries to hold on to this one point to show that it is tired to have Western countries telling it what to do. I wonder why no local sources are interviewed for this film to back up these claims. We have a Japanese nutritionist proving mercury content, some pedestrians in Tokyo saying they never heard about dolphin meat for sale, and two town council members of Taiji, but that's it; maybe 30 seconds of footage.
Also, the subjects of whaling and dolphin drive hunting are actually quite different. It's suggested that dolphins are becoming an endangered species, which is true for China, India and South America, but not in the Pacific or the Sea of Japan. That means the dolphin drive hunt is as of yet legal - one may wonder and contest why, but I find it rather irritating that the film constantly alludes to illegal actions when this is not the case. The scandal is actually just THAT. The Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) or Regional Fisheries Managements Organisations would be bodies to talk to about this, but certainly not the International Whaling Commission, as their chart does not include dolphins, which is actually mentioned in the film. Interesting fact on the side: Red Tuna (used for maguro sushi) is de facto on the verge of extinction, with the EU being a main exporter and Japan being the principal buyer. Any legislation to prevent that extinction will most likely come too late.
It's important to act against the decimation of sea mammals and help preserving them. It's a serious problem, but not exclusively Japanese. It would have been much better to point this out. Why show the slaughter footage to a government official to film his face in shock? Why not hire an exhibition spot in Japan, show it to the people and catch their response? The intrusive approach chosen here makes it very easy for political bodies in Japan to evade criticism. Since this reasoning is actually not so hard to come by, it makes me wonder whether the real issues at hand in 'The Cove' may not be a means of expression for Western supremacy thinking - an argument frequently used by emerging countries (China, for instance) to avoid being 'pinned down' by ecological law-making. 'The Cove' can certainly be interpreted this way, and may therefore do more harm than good in the long run by intensifying secrecy, obstinacy and distrust.
Winning almost every award it was nominated for, including the Sundance
Audience Award, this film tells the tale of dolphin abuse throughout
the world, but especially in Japan.
If you love dolphins, as I do, this film will bring tears to your eyes. You will find all those dolphins you love are not happy. You will find out what happens to the thousands that are not selected by dolphinariums. You will find out the extreme measures Japan takes to make sure you never see this film.
But, due to the incredible work of some dedicated individuals, you are seeing what happens in The Cove.
It is not an easy film to watch. I had to pause it and leave the house several times during the film. But anyone who cares about these creatures must watch it.
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