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In a sleepy lagoon off the coast of Japan, behind a wall of barbed wire and "Keep Out signs, lies a shocking secret. It is here, under cover of night, that the fishermen of Taiji engage in an unseen hunt for thousands of dolphins. The nature of the work is so horrifying, a few desperate men will stop at nothing to keep it hidden from the world. But when an elite team of activists, filmmakers and free-divers embark on a covert mission to penetrate the cove, they discover that the shocking atrocities they find there are just the tip of the iceberg.
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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After these beautiful creatures are cornered the fishermen close off the opening with nets so they can't escape. As their families on the other side cried & watched in horror. First the selected few, i.e.the "prettiest" ones, are netted & later sold to the highest bidders (places like Sea World). The rest are slaughtered, the water & beach forever stained with blood of over 20,000 dolphins, porpoises, and small whales each year. You can hear & see these dolphins being killed in the most inhumane ways possible. Afterwards, the carcasses are taken to a secret slaughterhouse & later sold to supermarkets. Dolphins, because of years of pollution, have toxic levels of Mercury.
Most of the Japanese public is unaware of the carnage that goes on in The Cove.
It hard at times to watch this movie, & I wouldn't recommend it for small children. However, anyone who cares about animals I highly recommend it.
Parts of the documentary are very hard to watch - notably the sections when the slaughter occurs. If you think of dolphins as similar to fish since they share the same environment, you will think again when you see these magnificent creatures suffer as they are killed. Part of the film shows the extent of the slaughter with no dialogue and this is the hardest part to watch - the water in the cove changes to bright red and you have to turn away for a second.
If you have any inclination of feelings towards the majestic dolphin and other marine mammals, you will enjoy this film, if only for the fact that it shows the successful exposing of an atrocity by the Japanese. In this day and age, it is difficult to accept that such a slaughter is cultural - so was slavery in the American past, and look how far we've come.
This one is a keeper. Watch it and get involved in saving these beautiful creatures.
NOTE: Mercury released into the environment becomes a serious threat when it settles into oceans and waterways, where it builds up in fish. Exposure to mercury may cause serious health problems, and is a threat to the development of the child in utero and early in life. It may have toxic effects on the nervous, digestive and immune systems, and on lungs, kidneys, skin and eyes. Mercury is considered as one of the top ten chemicals of major public health concern.
It started off a little weird with you trying to figure out who the narrator was and why is he one of the subjects. After that settles and you see who's who, this film just takes off. I felt a little stupid thinking I was aware of most of the issues concerning animals in captivity and their journey from the wild to the cages but this film taught me a great deal more.
Don't want to put spoilers in my review but this film was good. That whole Black Ops Japan stunt they pulled was phenomenal. I'm glad they put some behind-the-scenes footage to show us to what lengths they went to make it all happen.
A film you can watch with the whole family. Public high schools should be showing films like these instead of boring us with 1950's public service announcement classroom videos.
Great film (by "great" I mean ten times better than Searching for Sugarman).
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