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The Cove

Shallow Water. Deep Secret.

Wow. Just wow. This is easily one of the most powerful, heartfelt, and (yes, I’ll say it) important nature documentaries I’ve ever seen. Here’s a brutally honest and effortlessly fascinating film about one specific cove in Taiji, Japan, where approximately 23,000 dolphins are killed every year. And here’s the really twisted part: Given the amount of mercury that’s found in these creatures, they’re practically poison. But where there’s money to be made, there are atrocities to be committed. So while most of the better ‘socially conscious and angry’ documentaries are forced to look at a tragedy with years of hindsight, The Cove is so timely it almost hurts. This is not a film that looks backward and says ‘Jeez, what a shame that was,’ but one that screams ‘Look at what’s happening right now, and we really have to stop it!’ As this masterful documentary states its case, we’re introduced to a bunch of key players: Richard O’Barry, former dolphin trainer and longtime advocate for the animals; filmmaker Louie Psihoyos, who spearheads a massive effort to expose this sickening practice; a pair of world-class free-divers who gladly throw their skills into the mix; and an extra handful of daredevils, tech experts, and cameramen who are willing to risk a month in a Japanese jail, all so they finally can get some video footage of these secret slaughters. Those who fight for the survival of the dolphins (specifically, the Oceanic Preservation Society) lay much blame at the feet of the International Whaling Commission, which claims to protect the larger cetaceans – but allows the dolphin massacres because, well, it’s an industry. Nearly all of the world’s ‘show dolphins’ (as seen in Sea World, for example) come from Taiji, and guess what? Thousands more are mercilessly harpooned to death so their poisonous meat can be labeled as ‘whale’ and then dumped into numerous markets. So a beautiful species of mammal is being destroyed at the same time a fishing industry poisons its own customers. Brilliant. The film itself is an act of heroism, as it takes us knee-deep into some rather dangerous activities behind enemy lines – and the result is some footage that you must see to believe. It’s not for the squeamish, but it’s something you really should see. Just so you’ll get a little outraged. – Scott Weinberg, Cinematical
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Directed by: 
Louie Psihoyos
Running Time: 
Documentary Feature.
Screenplay by: 
Mark Monroe

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