Movie Review #701
Manny O Productions
Distributor: Magnolia Pictures
Spoken Languages: English – Spanish
Directed by Gabriela Cowperthwaite. Produced by Gabriela Cowperthwaite and Manuel V. Oteyza. Written by Gabriela Cowperthwaite & Eli Despres. Co-writer: Tim Zimmerman.
Rated PG-13 by the MPAA — mature themes, disturbing content, violence. Runs 1 hour, 23 minutes. Premiered at Sundance Film Festival on January 19, 2013; at San Francisco International Film Festival on April 27, 2013; at Hot Docs International Documentary Festival on April 30, 2013; at Montclair Film Festival on May 4, 2013; at Seattle International Film Festival on May 28, 2013; at Sydney Film Festival on June 7, 2013; at Provincetown International Film Festival on June 22, 2013; and at Nantucket Film Festival on June 27, 2013. Limited release in Los Angeles, California and New York City, New York on July 19, 2013.
Featuring Tilikum as himself. Also featuring Suzanne-Allee, Jeff Andrews, Kim Ashdown, Ken Balcomb, Samantha Berg, Diane Brancheau, Kelty Burn, Kelly Clark, Corinne Cowell, John Crowe, Dave Duffus, Howard Garrett, Dean Gomersall, John Hargrove, Steve Huxter, John Jett, James Earl Jones, Nadien Kallen, Lori Marino, Mercedes Martinez, Ken Peters, Christopher Porter, Carol Ray, Estefania Rodriguez, Mark Simmons, Thomas Tobin, Chuck Tompkins, Jeffrey Ventre, and Eric Walters as themselves.
My understanding is that a SeaWorld trainer is 50% veterinarian and 50% circus performer. They do care about animals, but it’s not a sincere be-all-and-end-all passion, because at a certain point, it has to be about putting on a show. The same is for the converse, that while they do love putting on a show, they won’t deliberately harm the animals just to put on a show. “Blackfish” investigates the moralities of SeaWorld in a way that is shocking and awe-inspiring. The name “killer whale” is highly inaccurate for an orca, unless they are aggravated consistently. That’s why the death of Dawn Brancheau, the most valuable trainer, honored highly by either species, was most shocking for those who knew her. When the beloved, happy-go-lucky star orca Tilikum lashes out on Brancheau, the only explanation is to look at anything that could have led to this incident.
I’m restraining myself from spoiling half the movie. There’s so much to say about the movie, and I’m dying to the say the would of it, but unfortunately, this world involve spoiling it. I ask that you see it before searching for spoilers. “Blackfish” takes an unflinching, often disturbing dive into the problems faced at SeaWorld. Anyway you look at it, the documentary is incredible and shocking. You’ll notice that this one had no problem becoming last year’s most controversial film. SeaWorld Entertainment has done seemingly everything in its power to keep the film from being seen, and let’s be honest, if you were the chairman of a multimillion dollar company that had been exposed, you’d take action. “Blackfish” doesn’t just wish to expose, though. It wishes to present the issue, to express its sympathy for those affected, and to understand what caused such an incident in the first place. Orcas, we are told, have minds that are driven by emotion more powerfully than most any animal. If you’d imagine “Blackfish” as unable to bring such emotional cleansing to a human, think again.
Friday the 13th Part VII: The New Blood
BLACKFISH IS AVAILABLE ON BLU-RAY, DVD, AND FREE TO STREAM ON NETFLIX.