Film Festival Review: Blackfish
Directed by Gabriela Cowperthwaite
This gripping documentary focuses on occasions when orcas go bad and marine-park management is worse. On one hand, it is a tale of corporate determination to suppress in- formation about staff deaths at SeaWorld and how orcas suffer in captivity; on the other, it’s a story about its idealistic young trainers, who are naively complicit in the abuse, convincing themselves the killer whales in their care need human love and attention. Several are interviewed after orcas have killed or injured their colleagues, and although the scales have fallen from their eyes, it is impossible not to be appalled by their former uncritical acceptance of the myths they had helped propagate about orcas’ role in the $US2 billion theme-park industry.
The real stars are the captive killer whales, which pay a very high price for a life spent turning tricks in front of the crowds who flock to see them: dorsal fin collapse, shortened lifespans, savage rakings from each other, and obvious despair for the young they are separated from. Free Willy for grownups.