Blackfish

Blackfish is a fascinating documentary that examines the life of performing killer whale Tilikum — who has caused the deaths of several people while in captivity — and questions the safety and humaneness of confining these intelligent creatures. The film’s argument is that these whales shouldn’t be kept in captivity. I thought they did what they could to portray the industry’s side of the story through court transcripts and former trainers’ accounts of the party line at SeaWorld. Yes, the arguments can be made that there are some benefits to keeping animals in captivity for research, and that the animals may form relationships with human beings, and that there are some positive aspects to their lives in captivity. The film doesn’t deny that. But it asks the question of whether those benefits are worth all of the harm that has been caused to these animals in captivity and harm to the trainers — and exposes misinformation that has intentionally been spread. SeaWorld’s defense is noticeably absent, because they repeatedly declined interviews during the making of this film. However, there is no good defense for them to stand on, other than that these killer whales make them boatloads of money. Would have loved to have seen some alternative points of view, but then maybe there aren’t alternative views to being against holding a whale in a large bathtub for thirty years. The film doesn’t paint SeaWorld as villains, but acknowledges all of the people who have been complicit in this system. Rather the movie serves to ask if it simply isn’t an outmoded barbaric practice that we should be putting an end to now that the facts are coming to light. I do think the film allows you to decide for yourself, while doing a great deal to help you empathize with the whales in captivity. I can’t say this movie is for everybody; seeing animals get injured and mistreated is certainly not enjoyable, but it is something that you should see, if only for awareness. As difficult as this was to watch in parts, my eyes were opened and I’m glad I saw it. It was hard watching this with my kids, but I’m glad they saw it too. We went to sea world two years ago and saw the Orca show. But I was uncomfortable about the exploitation of the animals, and I explained that to the kids at the time. This movie really drove the issue home for all of us. These are dangerous animals that are being used for circus sideshow performances. If Blackfishaccomplishes anything, it will make you angry with the unethical practices of SeaWorld. Seeing these majestic creatures with their limp dorsal fins is heartbreaking. Seaworld (and other parks like them) may claim to care about these magnificent creatures, but in truth, they do not. It’s about nothing other than the almighty dollar to them, which can be clearly seen in how they downplay the deaths of some of their trainers. Orca whales were never meant to live in captivity, not to mention have their babies ripped away from them. It was heartbreaking to watch these mother whales literally scream and cry for their young. I haven’t been to a Seaworld park in years, and I can assure you after watching this that I will never set foot in one again, and I will urge everyone I know not to either. Do yourself a favor and watch this. It will educate you… infuriate you… and hopefully motivate you to boycott Seaworld and join the “Free Tilly” movement. In fact, I would like to see our government completely outlaw the use of these mammals in any show. I honestly do not know how any of it is legal. On a final note, I totally applaud all the former Seaworld trainers and personnel who came forward for this documentary to expose it for the ugly business that it is. Were it not for their courage this barbarism could continue indefinitely. I just hope because of this documentary that there will come a day very soon that Seaworld will have to close its gates for good. This made me cry like a baby, but I am happy to know the truth! Very sad! This is emotional material with no dull moments, a conversation starter if there ever was one, and accomplishes exactly what it sets out to do: outrage its audience. This film  should have been nominated for an Oscar. I feel everyone needs to watch this movie. Definitely changed how I view SeaWorld and animals in captivity. So heartbreaking. Documentary 2013 PG-13 1hr 23m.

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