Most helpful critical review
9 of 12 people found the following review helpful
Sorry to Disagree....
on March 5, 2013
Sorry to disagree with all the other reviewers, because of whose glowing reviews I went to see this movie, but I think it's a piece of shlock.
Let me just say right now that I am entirely on the side of world peace, spirituality, saving the whales, saving the few pristine places left on earth, and preserving cultural heritage.
But I hated this movie and only sat through it due to politeness, although it turns out that the discussion afterward, which I was dreading (since I had nothing good to say about the movie), was actually very good and made the whole evening worthwhile. I really don't have a problem with somebody else loving this movie, I just want to give the other side.
I found this movie bombastic, preachy, melodramatic, and pompous, yet another episode of Western white boys pursuing their dreams that always seem to involve adopting some obscure aboriginal version of spirituality. In my old age I am more sensitive to the absence of women in popular culture. This movie appears to have tried hard to include women but all the "doers" and lead characters and narrators are men.
The music first put me to sleep and then got on my nerves, though parts of it were nice and might have been enjoyable in small doses.
I was offended by the representation of the death of the Western interpreter Terry Freitas (may he rest in peace, my comments are about the movie, not Terry's life, work, or death). It was mentioned that he was killed along with "two aboriginal colleagues" who we hear no more about, although we are shown memorial services for Terry all over the world and even an interview with his mother. It turns out, the other two people murdered were two American activists, one a Native American woman (and wife and mother) and the other a woman from Hawaii. Two female "doers" who have fallen into obscurity.
Our discussion group after this movie included two Maori. Neither had ever heard of the "Maori elder" in the movie, which led them to question the authenticity of the other elders. (Not that they meant she had no right to say what she did, the question was did she speak on behalf of the Maori or just herself?) They said this in a much more diplomatic way than I have put it. They also said they saw this as primarily a movie about one man's spiritual journey.
I was horribly offended by the director jumping in the water and swimming with dolphins the world over, which is how his spiritual journey (and the movie) began. Not just swimming either, but petting them. Leave the wild animals alone! Would it be OK if everybody wanted to jump in the ocean and commune with the dolphins? Of course not. Is it good for the animals when people try to live with bears or gorillas? No! (I do think Diane Fossey and Jane Goodall's work helped in the long run but some of their methods were questionable and certainly would not be acceptable based on our current understanding, or maybe even our understanding at the time.)
What are we to make of the clip showing a native woman suggesting that her tribespeople were poisoned rather than dying from flu? Does the director believe that? Is that why he chose to include that clip? It is well documented that native peoples were very susceptible to diseases brought by explorers and settlers, because they had no natural resistance to these heretofore unknown diseases. It is also a common belief of uneducated people that diseases such as AIDS are actually being implanted by the government or some other bogeyman. I felt the director was actually contributing to derogatory views of tribespeople by displaying her far-fetched belief (not so far-fetched for her but in light of science).