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Blackfish (2013)

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A documentary following the controversial captivity of killer whales, and its dangers for both humans and whales.

Writers:

Gabriela Cowperthwaite, Eli B. Despres (as Eli Despres) | 1 more credit »
Nominated for 1 BAFTA Film Award. Another 6 wins & 38 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Tilikum ... Himself (archive footage)
John Hargrove John Hargrove ... Himself - Former SeaWorld Trainer
Samantha Berg ... Herself - Former SeaWorld Trainer
Mark Simmons Mark Simmons ... Himself - Former SeaWorld Trainer
Kim Ashdown Kim Ashdown ... Herself
Dean Gomersall Dean Gomersall ... Himself - Former SeaWorld Trainer
James Earl Jones ... Himself (archive footage)
Shamu Shamu ... Himself (archive footage)
Carol Ray Carol Ray ... Herself - Former SeaWorld Trainer
John Jett John Jett ... Himself - Fomer SeaWorld Trainer
Dawn Brancheau Dawn Brancheau ... Herself - SeaWorld Trainer (archive footage)
Jeffrey Ventre Jeffrey Ventre ... Himself - Former SeaWorld Trainer
Thomas Tobin Thomas Tobin ... Himself
Dave Duffus ... Himself - OSHA Expert Witness, Whale Researcher
Jim Payne Jim Payne ... Himself (archive footage)
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Storyline

Notorious killer whale Tilikum is responsible for the deaths of three individuals, including a top killer whale trainer. Blackfish shows the sometimes devastating consequences of keeping such intelligent and sentient creatures in captivity. Written by Anonymous

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

Friend. Outcast. Killer. See more »

Genres:

Documentary | Drama

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated PG-13 for mature thematic elements including disturbing and violent images | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English | Spanish

Release Date:

18 October 2013 (Iceland) See more »

Also Known As:

Blackfish - Egy kardszárnyú delfin története See more »

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Box Office

Opening Weekend USA:

$75,962, 21 July 2013, Limited Release

Gross USA:

$2,063,312, 13 October 2013
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Manny O Productions See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Dolby Digital

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

1.78 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

1/6/17 - Tilikum, the SeaWorld Orca who killed his trainer (and inspired this documentary) died. See more »

Quotes

Christopher Porter - Former Trainer, Sealand: When you know the animal and have a relationship with it. You know, that he's not killing, because he's a savage. He's not killing, because he's crazy or because he doesn't know what he's doing. He's killing, because he's frustrated and has aggrevation. And when he's... He has no outlet for it.
See more »

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User Reviews

 
Hearing a harsh critique of SeaWorld only seems right coming from the people it meant the most to.
20 July 2013 | by thejoshlSee all my reviews

Without a doubt Blackfish is one of the most horrific theatre experiences you'll have this year. Director Gabriela Cowperthwaite presents a very carefully constructed case on the effects of inhumane treatment of Orcas in captivity. The one-sided argument is that the untimely human deaths caused by captive Orcas were not their fault but rather the fault of their captors; SeaWorld, and the evidence proving this point is so disturbing and so shockingly obvious that it's no wonder SeaWorld refused to be interviewed.

The story centers on Tilikum, a 12,000 lbs. Orca that is directly responsible for the death of 3 people, including Dawn Brancheau the former senior trainer at SeaWorld in Orlando. The film explores the reasoning behind the likely "psychosis" Tilikum has experienced in captivity, and the disgusting cover up executives have tried to make.

While SeaWorld naturally refused to be interviewed, the films perspective mostly derives from former trainers/employees of SeaWorld and other various experts. Their experience working with Orcas - most having dedicated their lives to it - is truly heart breaking. Presenting the theory, the evidence and finally a solution to the topic at hand, Blackfish is a marvellous story that will have you as tearful as the trainers that sincerely care for the well being of the creatures.

Blackfish doesn't just show a bunch of disgruntled former employees bashing SeaWorld either. The greatest technique employed in this film is its use of footage from shows featuring these trainers when they were younger. There's something so mesmerizing about watching the smiling young trainers play with their best friend while hearing their older self reminisce in voice over. Hearing a harsh critique of SeaWorld only seems right coming from the people it meant the most to.

While we've always known Orca's are intelligent creatures Cowperthwaite dedicates a lot of the film to demonstrating their capacity for emotions as well; watching them over time build connections with their trainers and each other. So by the time they show us their capture and captivity and witness the pain felt the whales, Tilikum especially, we know that their violent behavior is a direct result of SeaWorld. Killer Whales having never harmed a human in the wild.

I want to go through every point made by the movie but I won't. You need to see this for yourselves. The facts aren't what drive this film, the emotion behind them do. This is one of those movies you just won't stop talking about, and for the subject matter that's the best compliment it can receive. In the end sharing this information is what's going to help these Orcas.

Between the gripping footage and the distressing stories Blackfish effectively proves its point. There are very few movies like this; a must-see. There is no way after seeing this movie that you'll ever want to go to SeaWorld again, and for the sake of the animals that's the only thing we can do for them. Since it's made quite clear; the only thing affecting their decision-making is: how many Shamu dolls and tickets they've sold.

Our Rating:10/10

Let me know on Twitter @thejoshl what you thought of Blackfish!


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