It’s Wednesday morning, so that usually means I end up ruminating on our Tuesday night movie. Essentially, near enough every Tuesday, my wife, father-in-law and oftentimes brother-in-law also all assemble for a nice meal, catch up and movie. We are a myriad of tastes, so it often throws up quite a few varied choices, but we always have fun. And we often laugh and joke our way through a movie, commenting as we go.
Last night was the first time I can remember when all off us were stony silent from start to finish, while we watched Blackfish (2013), and it wasn’t because we were in a bad mood or anything like that. We were hooked, appalled and gripped from minute one.
It is a superb documentary, first and foremost. It tells the story of Tilikum, one of the performing killer whales at Sea World, from desperately sad start to present day. It is told through talking head interviews of ex-employees and archive footage, but it deftly tightens around you, gradually unfurling the beats of the story in such a way that is damning, heart-wrenching but always compelling.
I always think that the best documentaries feature the other side to the story, including the viewpoint of the antagonising parties. In this case that is Sea World, and it seems they were offered all manner of invitations to appear in the film to clarify events or their position. The fact that they don’t only enforces the appearance of the Sea World executive hierarchy as faceless suits only concerned about the bottom line – essentially rendering them the perfect villains.
What the film does very well is carry the story of the orcas in a way that educates and informs. I was dumbfounded by some of the facts in the story, and amazed. And it only raises eyebrows further at the barbaric treatment these animals have been subjected to.
There is far more to say, and far more to tell. But please watch it to feel it for yourself.
I went to Sea World as 16 year old in 1999, and was mesmerised. It was really something special, but now that sure leaves a sour taste in the mouth. I probably even saw Tilikum before, which sticks in my craw something awful. Eighteen months ago, I went with my little family to Disney, and chose not to got to Sea World because I didn’t think my two year old would sit through the shows. Had I seen this film prior to my trip, I would have had a whole host of reasons not to go.
See it. Now.
NB: The film came out last year, and I was interested to know how Sea World’s profits have been affected since release. Daily Mail say that their second quarter revenue for this year is down $42million (source), while Huffington Post says that so far this year, Sea World’s stock has dropped 31% (source). Although this is far from conclusive in proving some sort of ‘Blackfish effect’, it’s certainly worth thinking about.