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Maybe you've seen it all, and maybe you're already steeped in outraged, activist documentaries. But you haven't seen anything quite like The Cove, unless you can visualize a disturbing combination of Upton Sinclair's The Jungle, Free Willy, and the killing of Bambi's mother. The Cove is directed by the experienced National Geographic photographer Louie Psihoyos, who sets about to uncover a shocking (but regular) ritual on the Japanese coast: the herding and slaughter of thousands of bottlenose dolphins in the town of Taiji. A few dolphins are saved during this process, and sold off to aquariums so they can perform in water shows. The rest are crowded together and--away from prying eyes--stabbed to death, their meat sold as food. (Interviewing Japanese people on the street, they apparently have no idea that the "whale meat" on sale in stores is actually mercury-saturated bottlenose dolphin.) It's not that this mass killing is secret, exactly, but the fishermen of Taiji have done a proactive job of keeping cameras and other observers from getting a good look. Psihoyos wants to change all that, and he assembles a swashbuckling squad of scientists, filmmakers, and nerds (including movie F/X people who design fake rocks for hidden video cameras) to extra-legally smuggle recording equipment into the cove. The team's spiritual and emotional captain is Richard O'Barry, the man who helped popularize dolphins as cuddly animals as the trainer of TV's Flipper back in the 1960s--and who, horrified by the way dolphins have been used in public displays, has been an anti-captivity activist for decades. The footage that results is so shocking it should cause seismic reactions in viewers, and when O'Barry attends a meeting of the International Whaling Commission (portrayed by the film as ineffectual and/or bought off by Japanese interests) armed with video of the slaughter, he's like Rocky Balboa climbing into the ring for one more big fight. After what we've seen in the film at that point, it's unlikely many viewers won't be rooting him on. -Robert Horton
The Cove: Mercury Rising: A mini-documentary on the hazards of mercury in fish
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Top Customer Reviews
Ric O'Barry may be the world's premier lover of dolphins, but the one place you'll never find him at is Sea World taking in a show. That's because he'd much rather expend his time and energy in freeing those marvelous creatures from captivity - an act for which he has been arrested numerous times and which has earned him the status of persona non grata in many quarters. Yet, although O'Barry may be an "environmental whacko" (maybe even a "dangerous criminal") in the eyes of some, to others - and certainly to the dolphins whose freedom and well-being he champions - O'Barry is a real life hero.
The remarkable, consciousness-raising documentary "The Cove" chronicles O'Barry's efforts to make a clandestine video record of a dolphin slaughter that takes place regularly in a secluded cove in Taiji, Japan, far away from public view. Here thousands of dolphins are trapped, some to be captured and sold to dolphinariums, but most to be brutally massacred for food. To get his video, O'Barry enlisted the aid of various friends and colleagues, who formed a kind of "Ocean's Eleven" special ops team of high-tech video and sound engineers, to pull off the scheme.
Why, some might wonder, should animals like dolphins and whales be protected from such ritualized slaughter when other mammals like cows and sheep are not? O'Barry would posit that it is because, alone among all God's creatures, the dolphin has a uniquely symbiotic relationship with mankind, as evidenced by tales told from time immemorial of dolphins rescuing humans stranded at sea and even of protecting them from underwater predators such as sharks.Read more ›
Richard O'Barry, the principal subject of the film, wrestles with almost constant feelings of remorse. In the mid 60s, he served as the technical advisor for the successful television show "Flipper"; he helped find, train and care for the dolphins who played the title character. The success of the series is viewed as the catalyst to the creation of "Ocean Parks" around the world, places like the various "Sea World" parks, where thousands of people visit every year to watch dolphins, whales and other sea creatures perform tricks. O'Barry learns of a small fishing village in Japan, Taijii, where the main business is to capture dolphins and herd them into captivity. They sell the best dolphins to parks, exhibits, "swimming with dolphins" type businesses and more, earning as much as $150,000 for the best of the best. But what do they do with the rest of these creatures? The ones that don't sell? O'Barry knows and he wants to expose the truth to the world in an effort to put a stop to it.
He enlists the aid of Louie Psihoyos, a documentary filmmaker, who assembles a team of people. They begin to gather all of the equipment they will need for the project and make many plans on how to infiltrate the secret areas before they set off for Japan. As soon as they arrive, the sheer amount of baggage (all of their equipment) catches the attention of the authorities and they are quickly under surveillance. The police visit O'Barry many times, each time trying to get him to admit his guilt. He doesn't trust them and they don't believe him.Read more ›
These people are different from us, who, in most cases, see what is happening to earth and its wildlife and just think: "i wish i could do something to change all this", or maybe just don't care at all. This is where these people differ from us, they actually got out and did something about it, sometimes even risking themselves.
What is happening in Japan, and other places in the world, where dolphins are being literally slaughtered, is a cruelty, plain and simple. When i see something like this happening i think: "there is no hope for the human race, we're just doomed, we're killing this planet a creature at a time." But when these kind of people try to do something to change all this, the hope that was lying dead inside me just awakens again and I pray that my children and grandchildren (I'm 22 yo) can live in a better world than this.
Even without knowing any of them, I feel proud for the people who did this documentary. And if this post or review helps to gather more and more people to their cause, than this is just a tiny drop of water in an ocean compared to what they did. So buy this movie, donate to their cause, shout at the streets, just trying to do anything is better than doing nothing.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
The slaughter of Dolphins is heartrending and oh, so sad. We (Americans) slaughter cattle and many other animals. Does that make us better than the Japanese? I don't think so.Published 22 days ago by piffle
Arrived as promised, packaging was good and helped me with a school assignment.Published 23 days ago by Southern Gal
This was a beautiful movie, but not for the weak of heart. It's eye opening, but the end if very hard to watch. I think everyone should see it.Published 23 days ago by Jessica
A stunning film. At times I had to look away. Heartwrenching yet beautifully done. A must see film.Published 2 months ago by M. J. Karmi