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We're told from the beginning of the documentary "The Whale" that the filmmakers never intended to produce a movie about the subject. In many ways, though, this incredible true life tale was begging to be shared with the world. The life of Luna, a baby orca who became an international media sensation, is just so incredible, so unusual, so heartfelt, and even occasionally disturbing that the film will linger with you long after the credits roll. I watch a ton of movies (and documentaries) but the day after I viewed "The Whale," I mentioned it to three friends as a must-see. That's a testament mostly to Luna (and the movie secondarily), but I almost NEVER go out of my way to make such a bold recommendation. This is not your polished nature documentary, this is a piece with real intimacy and emotion. Much of the movie was joyous and much of it aroused feelings of anger and disappointment but, trust me, you can't watch this and be unaffected. While the movie is rated G, though, I wouldn't necessarily recommend it to all ages. It's not always a nice story, but it gives you a lot to think about.

Luna, as a two year old, showed up one day in a small bay on the west coast of Vancouver Island. Separated from its pod, the whale seemed to be thriving with plenty to eat. But whales are essentially a social animal and Luna really lacked for company. I'm not one to humanize animal traits, but there is little doubt that our baby wanted to play and socialize with the only species available to him. Luna started popping up and the locals were enchanted with their new aquatic friend. Over the course of the next few years, though, Luna's presence would become a source of much concern and debate. From the simplicity and playfulness of Luna's early days, government regulators get involved, the animal takes on mythological status to a local tribe, he becomes a human interest story around the globe, and the whale's antics start to upset some in the community. To paraphrase from The Sound of Music, how do we solve a problem like Luna? That's a point of major contention in this riveting and occasionally unsettling presentation.

"The Whale" boasts some prominent names as Executive Producers (Scarlett Johansson and Ryan Reynolds). Reynolds makes a very personal and informal narrator as well. But the real star is Luna. From a technical standpoint, "The Whale" isn't fancy or overdone. Its impressive footage is captured naturally over time and the movie actually benefits from this of-the-moment imperative. The spectacular shots of Luna are interspersed with interviews of the major players in the debate, each thinking that they were doing what was best. In the end, it is easy to become emotionally invested in Luna's plight and it is easy to see why so many were passionate in the fight (even if they were at odds). This is one I won't soon forget! But again, screen it before you show it to your kids. It's perfectly acceptable for those that can deal with more complex issues, it just isn't a Disney-fied G-rated nature documentary. KGHarris, 11/12.
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on December 18, 2013
I was very fortunate to have seen the original version of this film on its big screen premiere in Seattle under the title, "Saving Luna". The filmmakers were present for the showing and provided a remarkably insightful Q&A session afterwards.

If you are not moved by this film, there is likely no hope. The Southern Resident Killer Whales were already an endangered species at the time of Luna's unfortunate demise and their population continues to decline.

The L-Pod (and the rest of us) lost a beautiful, innocent, non-human person named Luna and his long-lost cousin, Tokitae, who was kidnapped and sold into slavery as a child to perform under the show name "Lolita" for more than four decades, alone in the same run-down, excruciatingly-tiny concrete pool. She is wise and sentient, like all killer whales, and still could be re-united with her family. Luna unfortunately did not have that chance. Check out the Orca Network's website.

If you enjoyed this film, another documentary from the same filmmakers can be found easily by navigating to your favorite search engine and entering: "BBC Natural World A Killer Whale Called Luna".
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on December 13, 2012
Just a really sad story of the tragic consequences for animals who unwittingly try to befriend humans. After reading up further about the whale and the bureaucratic entanglements that might have prevented a sad and not-so-inevitable conclusion, I am just sad for what could have been.
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on December 12, 2012
Not a word I use often, but, enchanting from the first scene (after too much narration, or maybe I was just impatient) of Luna the Orca, and star of this documentary. Whatever the movie's faults, this animal's incredible and mysterious energy comes across on the screen. I've never seen anything quite like it.
It is also a tragedy: Luna was never reunited with his pod due to human incompetence. But that's part of the story. Loved the human characters too, especially the native tribe.
Sour grapes: I paid almost $20 (from Amazon seller) first week of release and second week price starts @ $10. Bit of a rip-off; and dvd is skimpy on extras.
Lessson: don't buy the first week of release.
0Comment|11 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
We're told from the beginning of the documentary "The Whale" that the filmmakers never intended to produce a movie about the subject. In many ways, though, this incredible true life tale was begging to be shared with the world. The life of Luna, a baby orca who became an international media sensation, is just so incredible, so unusual, so heartfelt, and even occasionally disturbing that the film will linger with you long after the credits roll. I watch a ton of movies (and documentaries) but the day after I viewed "The Whale," I mentioned it to three friends as a must-see. That's a testament mostly to Luna (and the movie secondarily), but I almost NEVER go out of my way to make such a bold recommendation. This is not your polished nature documentary, this is a piece with real intimacy and emotion. Much of the movie was joyous and much of it aroused feelings of anger and disappointment but, trust me, you can't watch this and be unaffected. While the movie is rated G, though, I wouldn't necessarily recommend it to all ages. It's not always a nice story, but it gives you a lot to think about.

Luna, as a two year old, showed up one day in a small bay on the west coast of Vancouver Island. Separated from its pod, the whale seemed to be thriving with plenty to eat. But whales are essentially a social animal and Luna really lacked for company. I'm not one to humanize animal traits, but there is little doubt that our baby wanted to play and socialize with the only species available to him. Luna started popping up and the locals were enchanted with their new aquatic friend. Over the course of the next few years, though, Luna's presence would become a source of much concern and debate. From the simplicity and playfulness of Luna's early days, government regulators get involved, the animal takes on mythological status to a local tribe, he becomes a human interest story around the globe, and the whale's antics start to upset some in the community. To paraphrase from The Sound of Music, how do we solve a problem like Luna? That's a point of major contention in this riveting and occasionally unsettling presentation.

"The Whale" boasts some prominent names as Executive Producers (Scarlett Johansson and Ryan Reynolds). Reynolds makes a very personal and informal narrator as well. But the real star is Luna. From a technical standpoint, "The Whale" isn't fancy or overdone. Its impressive footage is captured naturally over time and the movie actually benefits from this of-the-moment imperative. The spectacular shots of Luna are interspersed with interviews of the major players in the debate, each thinking that they were doing what was best. In the end, it is easy to become emotionally invested in Luna's plight and it is easy to see why so many were passionate in the fight (even if they were at odds). This is one I won't soon forget! But again, screen it before you show it to your kids. It's perfectly acceptable for those that can deal with more complex issues, it just isn't a Disney-fied G-rated nature documentary. KGHarris, 11/12.
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on December 17, 2012
Honestly one of the best movies I have seen.
It is an amazing story that you will remember long after you watch the movie
It is filled with emotion and so many life lessons ....a perfect movie to watch with your children/
Grandchildren or students. A perfect gift for the holidays.
I have seen it multiple times....Luna is an unforgettable "character"!
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VINE VOICEon April 9, 2016
What a beautiful, yet sad movie on whales - one in particular! The best of this movie is the fact that it is all true, every bit of it. It shows one of those cases where you are damned if you do, and damned if you don't. This adorable young male (Luna) got stranded all by himself from his pod, up off the coast in British Columbia and unbelievably, all he wanted to do was have friends and companionship, just like people ! ! It is so obvious that he was lonely and craved someone to show attention to himself and oh, how Luna loved to play! His calls at night, alone out in the channel are heartbreaking and sound mournful, but if he heard or saw anyone, he would come rushing to them, to actually be loved and play !! This is a wonderful movie for all ages; of course, you will enjoy, laugh and inevitably cry over poor Luna's loneliness, as everyone thinks they know the answer as to what to do about him, but Luna knew better than anyone else - he just wanted to be friends with people. I will watch this terrific movie a lot of times, when I just need assured that friendship is wonderful for anybody or any being ! ! !
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on September 19, 2014
I watched this Movie again today with a friend. It took me an hour to get her to stop crying. This movie is indeed testament to the stupidity of humans when interacting with animals. I am not talking about the humans that loved and adopted Luna into their own. I am speaking of the a$$hole bureaucrats that really screwed up this entire situations.
All they had to do... was pick Luna up (just like they do for SeaWorld) and take him to his pod 200 miles away. Luna would still be alive today if they would have done this.
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on April 26, 2016
This is such a good film. Each time I watch it I love it a lithe more. This is the story of a small whale who left a very big footprint on a Canadian town. You cannot help but fall in love with this precious creature, and the town's people could not resist him either. This is a tale of love and friendship, but it is also a cautionary tale with much to be learned by us all. Sometimes in life it is difficult to know what is right and what is wrong, this is oe of those examples. Regardless which "side" you find yourself on with this one, one thing is true, Luna was loved and Luna felt loved.
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on October 30, 2012
How could one orphaned Orca make for an incredible documentary film? The answer is "The Whale," with wonderful narration from Executive Producer Ryan Reynolds (Scarlett Johansson also co-produced) and always fascinating commentary from the many scientists and local people who worked with Luna the whale. This one is excellent for kids and adults, all! I'm ordering a few extra for holiday gifts, too.
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