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Deceptively Optimistic Movie
on May 27, 2015
Note: Orcas are oceanic dolphins and not whales, so I shall refer to them as such.
This was a good documentary but very frustrating in many ways.
Basically, it's a story about a young orca dolphin lost by his pod. As a consequence, he starts desiring friendship with humans, many of which develop a sentimental connection with him too. They name him Luna and there is no doubt he had a deep, rich inner life within his conscious awareness. I enjoyed the story of friendship with the orca but with three severe issues with the second being the main one.
First off, I was immensely bemused by one massive contradiction in the film and the turn of events due to a flawed system of regulations: if this was a rare occurrence of a wild orca befriending humans, then how could scientists make the induction Luna would not go back to his pod when released near them, and why did the regulations not permit for Luna to be released near his pod? At around 35 minutes there was a cetacean social cognition researcher who said he was close to be given permission to guide Luna back home, meaning they knew where his pod was, but he was not permitted to do so.
Moreover, why am I supposed to give a care about those natives in Canada? They basically take Luna and then ABANDON him, to where he is even threatened by a hurricane! This is like a horror story! If Luna could have just been guided back to her pod, then there would be no issue. Even after we are told he died, we get endless slogans and sentimental talk about, "Oh we were dear friends with Luna! We learned so much!" Your friend just died yet didn't have to! Which brings me to my second point.
Why does the film have such an overly idealistic tone? I understand there were many people that cared for Luna, but very few of them fought hard to have Luna reunite with his pod. Most of the people were concerned with raising Luna alongside humans and having her assimilate to their ways, but of course, problems would eventually loom. Therefore, why does the film have such a perky, overly optimistic message? Most people seemed concerned more with their relationship with Luna rather than his overall happiness outside of their friendship. After Luna died, no one bemoaned the fact none of this would have happened if Luna were to be reunited with her tribe and not living alongside fishermen, tourists, and so forth. The bureaucratic system, traditional beliefs of natives, naive fishermen, and so forth all worked against her interests. It would make more sense if the film adopted a more pessimistic tone about mankind being able to take the right decisions:
Quote from Wikipedia: "NGOs like Orca Conservancy, OrcaLab, Veins of Life Watershed Society and Reunite Luna pressed hard for DFO to take action to save Luna, 'quid pro quo,' as Orca Conservancy's Michael Harris said on Seattle television. 'We brought back your orca, now let's do something about ours.' But DFO's public response was firm—Luna would be left where he was."
Finally, onto the final point, I think the documentary insults the viewer's intelligence. Why not give more details on how orcas are highly intelligent? Mention their high encephalization quotient, degrees of brain folding, complex neuroanatomy (e.g., I believe cetaceans in general have more glia which has been implicated in information processing), and perhaps explain how other oceanic dolphin relatives have passed nonverbal false-belief tasks verifying a "theory of mind" (i.e., capability of modeling the thinking of others and attribute mental beliefs, desires, and intentions to both oneself and others). Overall, what I am saying is giving us more scientific details instead of just endless slogan after slogan would have been good. We have a very strong reason to believe based off case studies, peer reviewed journal articles, and so forth cetaceans deserve to be called "non-human persons".