Friday, September 10, 2010

The Cove

After I watch a movie, I always read as much as possible online about the movie, the subject matter, the stars, production notes, and the like. Especially for a film in the historical/period and documentary genres, I want to know how accurate and impartial a film is. Documentaries are nearly always unapologetically one-sided and so it's interesting to seek out what the other side has to say.

Most of the time, I wholeheartedly agree or sympathize with the message or goal of the documentary for example Sicko, Food Inc., and An Inconvenient Truth. But I felt a little bit uneasy about The Cove, a bit reluctant to embrace the message of it all.

The Cove won the Best Documentary Feature at this year's Academy Awards. To me, it mainly documented the journey of a group of American activists who go to Taiji, Japan, where an annual hunting/slaughtering of dolphins take place. And along the way, Ric O'Barry, the man who is at the center of the mission to stop this dolphin killing tradition, explains why he became involved. My favorite part of The Cove is how the crew tried to document this event. The fishermen in Taiji who partake in the killing obviously do not want outsiders to see what really happens in the cove. Thus the area is heavily fenced and guarded by local police. To get footage of the killing, the camera crew had to sneak around at night with night and thermal vision cameras. This part of the film is a very exciting and a bit Mission Impossible like.

What we ultimately see is the undeniable truth. Pathetic method of driving the dolphins into the dove. Cruel slaughtering of dolphins. Heartbreaking footages. And blood. Lots and lots and lots of blood. At the end, it is impossible to feel sorry for the helpless and hopeless dolphins who are obviously suffering a lot of pain. And I cannot help to feel disdain for the people who are a part of this killing. The hunt is disgusting, hateful, and barbaric. (Those are probably the harshest words I've ever used in this blog.)

But going back to what I said earlier, I try to read upon the film and its subject matter after the viewing. What I found is a bit too much discrepancies between the accounts of how the footages were shot. I really do not like how the Japanese fishermen said that originally Ric O'Barry went to Taiji for a different purpose. Yet the film portrays the film crew as being there for the purpose of documenting the dolphin hunt from the start. Furthermore, I dislike how there is the "white man's burden," "the West telling the East how to live" sort of point of view. So in the end, I am not entirely sure if the people involved in this film are as noble as they appear to be.

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