Animal cruelty and captive animals have, and always be, a part of our regular discussion here in America. We think little of it when we go to the zoo or when we enter an amusement park of sorts, but they are not all fun and games like we as kids used to believe. In reality, there are countless parks and attractions that have horrific truths and histories that the parks wish to keep secret all for the sake of profit. Blackfish is a stirring and sharply penetrating documentary on Orca whales and their existences in theme parks like SeaWorld and the horrors behind the water covered curtains. I will comfortably admit that I am an animal lover. I’ve read countless books, and watched countless documentaries on them as a kid and as an adult with not much change, and Blackfish made me teary eyed.
As far as documentaries go, they are either exciting and fun or they make you hold you breath with heartbreak. Animals always have that ability to hit an emotional center in people provoking a desire of change and action to be taken. I’ve only been to SeaWorld once and that was as a kid and even being as young as I was I saw the pain through the majestic creatures eyes as they would float miserably in their tiny tanks being leered at like moving paintings with feelings. What we get through this documentary is that exact expression through the truths of these animals outside of their natural environments. Gabriela Cowperthwaite has created a documentary on par with other nature documentaries of this sort since the Award-winning, and often graphic and disturbing, The Cove.
Unlike The Cove, we aren’t given a spy-like mission to unlock the horrors of animal cruelty, but instead a widely documented coagulation of infamous deaths of trainers, mistreatment of animals, and the little that has being done to stop all of it. It is 2015 and soon to be 2016, but this is more significant than ever. We cannot blame the animals in tanks for these tragedies anymore. Though somber and unfortunate, these animals don’t get their nicknames for throwing tea parties with their captives. These are “killer” whales and it goes to show how idiotic the human psyche can become when thinking they can tame and train wild animals.The introduction alone is enough to give you chills and a curled dorsal fin. A 911 call stating that a trainer has been killed is enough to summarize what you’re about to watch.
What documentaries get a chance to do is tell a specific story through facts and often less opinion. The great documentaries don’t gloss over the good or the bad of the topic for entertainment value, they hit it all, and Blackfish is a great documentary. What I’ve learned through the documentary genre has been astounding and shocking all over, but not just with nature based focuses. Documentaries have a chance to bring to light the horrors and the beauties of our world in a way that will get people thinking in a more productive way again. In a world where everyone has an opinion but not a voice, we are in dire need of visual evidence of the atrocities in our countries and the details that don’t get shown on the daily news.
Blackfish is disturbing but watchable. It is disturbing because we as people stayed silent and ignorant to the facts behind SeaWorld and their treatment of animals and the situations caused by their actions or lack thereof. Even though we’ve all seen Free Willy we are still not doing anything to change the abuse and confinement of these wild beasts, but now it looks like SeaWorld is meeting it’s match in years long fight that may have it KO’d like Rousey in the second. I implore you all to see this if it is still on Netflix and I also implore you not support an organization that has done nothing to change the treatment of their animals over the last few years.
Blackfish is potent with its subject matter while being informative and persuasive. It has subject matter for everyone by the end of the film itself and will have you and your friends and family talking for weeks after you see it.