Recently, I watched the controversial documentary Blackfish, which focuses on the treatment, abuse, and containment of Orca Whales in theme parks such as Sea World. It was one of the most heart-breaking things I’ve ever watched. Between the obvious agony of the whales and the lack of concern from the staff, it certainly struck a heart chord. I’ve been attempting to write this review for the past week or so but just can’t seem to describe it in a way that it deserves.
Watch Trailer Here.
Summary: “Blackfish tells the story of Tilikum, a performing killer whale that killed several people while in captivity. Along the way, director-producer Gabriela Cowperthwaite compiles shocking footage and emotional interviews to explore the creature’s extraordinary nature, the species’ cruel treatment in captivity, the lives and losses of the trainers and the pressures brought to bear by the multi-billion dollar 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.” –Movie Site
My Rating: 5 stars
Rotten Tomatoes: 98%
Why?: Animal abuse is a topic that everyone knows is happening but doesn’t want to think about. The animals we take pictures of in zoos, the animals that our makeup is tested on and more make up the animals in captivity that need our help. However, we don’t want to do anything about it because we are too self-absorbed with how their torture benefits us in the twenty-first century. We want our kids to have the experience of being taken to the zoo to see the animals there, but what we don’t want to think about is the animals and their quality of life there. Most likely these animals have either been stolen out of their original habitats and communities to be raised in captivity or have been bred in captivity and know nothing else. Many like to argue that they live a better life in captivity because they always have access to food and shelter etc. but that doesn’t make up for what they are missing. They are missing their way of life, missing the exercise they get while hunting and the natural behaviors they should have developed. They are bored and lonely in captivity.
Most likely these animals have either been stolen out of their original habitats and communities to be raised in captivity or have been bred in captivity and know nothing else. Many like to argue that they live a better life in captivity because they always have access to food and shelter etc. but that doesn’t make up for what they are missing. They are missing their way of life, missing the exercise they get while hunting and the natural behaviors they should have developed. They are bored and lonely in captivity.
When humans are bored with their life, it usually leads to them making a major move in an attempt to change it up a bit. Same with animals. Being in captivity in claustrophobic spaces doing the same thing every day obviously will have bumps in the road. These animals, while tamed, are still highly dangerous. They still have the ability to kill and if we don’t learn more about the animals we are using as show ponies, it can result in serious damage.
These points are precisely what are addressed within the movie. Tilikum, an orca whale, one of many captive ones sadly, begins to show signs of violence and unhappiness in his environment. However, the staff and viewers refuse to acknowledge the increasing danger that comes from keeping him captive. With multiple attacks, kills, and accounts of aggression under his belt, Tilikum still remains held. With the increasing aggression of these captive whales and the danger, the captivity of these dangerous animals proposes to their trainers and viewers, we need to begin taking action.
Through the exposure of the treatment of whales, the directors of this documentary have taken fate into their own hands, attempting to change the future for animal captivity for entertainment purposes. The more we are able to write about, film and photograph this, the more we can spread the word, and the more we can do to fight for these animals that aren’t able to fight for themselves.
Next time you get a chance, I highly suggest you watch this movie. Plus you can find it on Netflix!
Have you watched Blackfish? What did you think about it?