Documentary: The Cove

Its been a while since I saw a documentary that really really turned my worldview on end.  I've been watching The Cove, 2010 Oscar Winner for best documentary and a truly frightening film .. both fascinating and harrowing.
Since I was very young, I've loved dolphins .. but I formed my very own opinions about using them as an attraction after my one and only visit to Marine Land as a small child.  I vowed to never visit dolphin parks, made my mum buy dolphin friendly tuna and boycotted the movie Free Willy.  I had some wonderful encounters with these breathtaking creatures in the wild though!  I've watched dolphins from boats off the coasts of Atlantic Canada and New England and from the beaches of the south-eastern US.  While kayaking in Alaska a few curious ones followed us into the channel and they seemed to love playing in the cruise ship wakes.  In Scotland, we stood way high up atop a coastal castle and saw pods jumping, playing and racing across the ocean coves.  Swimming with captive dolphins in a small pool pales in comparison with what my brother and I experienced in South Carolina: there, as we waded and swam along the sandy beaches, wild dolphins approached my brother taunting him by cheekily surfacing in front and behind him one at a time as he turned around .. and what made it so special is that THEY chose to swim with HIM.  There's no question in my mind, these animals belong in the wild, exercising their own free will.

So when The Cove aired this week on CBC's The Passionate Eye, I was really interested to check it out.  I had heard the Oscar buzz, but I've found documentaries lacking in effort and depth lately.  Too many docs I've seen lately reuse stock news footage, internet searches and still images wound around poorly researched or tenuously connected stories.  This movie however, stunned me!  Its less of a documentary and more like an adventure suspense drama and while admittedly one sided, this film is definately well researched and thought provoking.  But it doesn't stop there.  The Cove is an excellent documentary, but it would be great as an action spy thriller!

note: this is the trailer, CLICK HERE to watch the whole film

National Geographic photographer and founder of the Ocean Preservation Society, Louie Psihoyos, leads the high-stakes caper along with the renowned former dolphin trainer of Flipper fame, Richard O'Barry.  Joining them is world champion free diver Mandy-Rae Cruickshank who dives under the cover of darkness to place underwater recording devices and ingenious fake rocks with hidden cameras provided by yes, Industrial Light and Magic!  Night-vision cameras and thermal binoculars capture this dangerous logistical operation with tactical precision.  Deserving of its Oscar-winning status, this documentary plays out like a Hollywood espionage drama but never looses the guerilla journalism roots.

To me, the most stunning scene is the concluding one.  If you don't watch any other part, watch this.
This is an effective form of protest. Walking into the International Whaling Comission's packed conference room with a video monitor strapped to his chest, Richard O'Barry plays the extremely graphic footage for the previously unaware voting delegates that decide the fate of the oceans.  In the next shot he stands with the video monitor playing the same horros in the middle of a busy Japanese crossing, taking the message directly to the people.  Making the powers that be and the populous masses very uncomfortable and aware of a problem they cannot deny is a far more effective form of change than angrily waving signs.

MORE INFO: http://www.savejapandolphins.org || http://www.thecovemovie.com ||

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