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Fishing for all the wrong reasons: “The Cove”

The cove presets a fresh take on the damages of over-fishing Credit: Ocean Preservation Society.

“Round em’ up and mow em’ down!” a line that may seem to denote a philosophy of murder on a massive scale, and while the topic of this particular review may not in involve the slaughtering of anything human, it does involve the killing of something surprisingly similar to us, dolphins.

All of this takes place in the most seemingly unlikely of places, a small fishing village on the beautiful and majestic coast of Japan known as Taiji.  A hotspot for tourists from all areas of Japan and around the world, Taiji has one heck of a “dirty little secret,” or perhaps more accurately, a very large secret.

Day in and day out, local fisherman round up thousands of dolphins and heard them into a small cove on the coast to be selected and captured for use in aquariums and sea parks all over the world (i.e. Seaworld).

But, what happens next is something far more shocking and horrifying indeed.  One may wonder what happens to the hundreds of dolphins that fail to be chosen during this process.  Well, the answer is something almost unbearable to witness, the remaining dolphins are shepherded into yet another cove, and there they are stabbed repeatedly with sharp harpoon-like poles until they are all dead.

Unsurprisingly, their deaths are neither humane nor painless, rather hundreds of dolphins dye a slow and painful death as their blood and entrails slowly turn the water an ominous sheen of blood red.  The blood flows thick and the viewer’s sorrow runs thicker.

As one may guess, neither the local government nor the local fishermen who participate in this practice are very keen on exposing this ritual to the general public.  And, in the next logical step, they are also very determined to prevent any and all knowledge of this practice from seeping out into the general public.

That’s where the documentary “The Cove” comes into play.  Longtime dolphin activist, and former dolphin trainer on the well-known TV show “Flipper,” Ric O’Barry, is the subject and genesis for the film.  Dedicated to exposing this terrible practice, Ric O’ Barry recruits a self-described “Oceans 11” crew of individuals to covertly film this secret ritual in an effort to expose the practice to the outside world.

Despite the undeniably admirable motives and subsequent brave actions taken by Ric O’ Barry and the rest of his crew, the documentary still seems strangely lacking in a few key areas.  And while the film is certainly compelling and intriguing by its premise alone, it’s the film’s presentation of the material it contains that causes a number of obvious and very apparent imperfections.

The film comes off as over-hyped and even over sensationalized to some extent.  While the events taking place onscreen are undoubtedly tragic, the way the material is presented comes off as “Hey look at this!  Yeah, over here!  I’m important, so pay attention to me,” meaning the film is almost too self-aware of its own material, and seems to promote itself as, dare I say it, more important than it actually is.

I often felt myself calling into question the neutrality, or at the least the presentation of the facts, in the film.  While one can’t criticize a film whose entire premise it is to draw attention to a particular issue, the facts and interviewees used throughout the film feel somewhat inaccurately represented.  This leads to what many would consider to be a far less compelling and convincing argument for the film itself, and even makes it seem a little less important in the eyes of the moviegoer (at least this particular one).

All criticisms and stylistic flaws aside, “The Cove” is something that, in the end, is simply worth watching for the eye-opening facts it reveals, and the moral indignation it arouses within each and every viewer.

Worth a watch for the message alone-7/10

Side Note: If anyone is interested in finding out more about the campaign to stop the massacre in Taiji, click here. If you would like to become involved in the campaign, please contact senior Lauren Parrino, Multimedia editor of the Foothill Dragon Press, at [email protected] or at 805-850-9508 because she is fighting against the slaughter for her Hero Project.

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