Blackfish movie full length review - SeaWorld's Nemesis
Blackfish is an extraordinary film that captures aspects of Orcas both in the wild and in captivity. The film uses research of Orcas in the wild against the conditions they are kept in while in confinement.
In doing so it does an impressive job at opening your eyes to the dark side of captivity. Orcas, also referred to as Killer Whales, are often thought to be friendly, loving and intelligent creatures. This is the case in the wild, but not in long-term captivity. Blackfish takes a look at the conditions Killer Whales are kept in at the glorious theme parks, which just happen to turn them into money making slaves. Orcas are meant to be wild animals, and training them to perform tricks against their will to earn food?which they need to survive?is just immoral. The film allows us to see the mind-turning process in multiple video clips of not only the training sessions, but also of the whale's performances. The film's main focus is on a Killer Whale named Tillikum. It follows Tillikum beginning from when he was captured to his current stay at every kid's wonderland, SeaWorld. Tillikum's past is filled with mistreatment, abuse, and underestimation. After being captured Tillikum went to stay at a park called Sea Land. It should have been called Sea Tank, because that's what it was. He was kept in an atrociously small metal pool, nowhere suitable for his size. During his stay at this park, he participated in the killing of a trainer. The film shows an interview of two women who were viewing the show the day this tragedy happened, and revealed that Tillikum may have not just participated, but "initiated" the killing. Right after the killing he was purchased by SeaWorld, who knowingly took him despite the horrific event. SeaWorld claims they did not know of the tragedy. If they didn't know, why did they caution the trainers not to get too close to him? SeaWorld unsuccessfully tried to keep this tragedy from reoccurring. The film covers the 2010 news story of Dawn Brancheau being killed by no other than Tillikum himself. SeaWorld tried to revise the story by saying it was Dawn's error, not Tillikum acting out. After Blackfish was released, SeaWorld fired back saying that they had never blamed Dawn for her death. Although the film clearly contains an interview of a SeaWorld executive saying, "If Dawn was here she would agree with me that it was her error." The film shows how Tillikum has been brutally treated by both his fellow whale companions and by the parks themselves. Neither the film nor I claim that SeaWorld or any other park abuses their animals physically, but they are mentally tortured. The film features a news segment showing Jane Velez-Mitchell making the controversial remark, "If you were kept in a bathtub for 25 years, don't you think you'd get a little psychotic?" The producer's decision to include this segment was an extremely good one; it points out the flaws in captivity. How can you morally take a wild animal--which is supposed to be able to roam freely--and stick them in an enclosed tank with animals not of their family? That's right, the whales at SeaWorld are not a big happy family as SeaWorld has made the public believe in for quite some time. Despite the name "Killer Whales," these creatures are very family oriented animals. In the wild, they stay with their family their whole lives. Whale hunters have ripped these families apart to turn them into show monkeys. The film features actual footage showing hunters capturing these beautiful creatures and splitting them from their family. Not only does this process affect the captured animal, it affects the family who has now lost one of their loved ones. A lot of times the capturing of the whales leads to some of the family members dying as well. Blackfish exposes SeaWorld for the lies it has told. The film provides footage of SeaWorld employees informing customers that Orcas live to be 25-30 in the wild, so they live much longer in captivity. This is an outright, boldfaced lie. Research has shown that in the wild Orcas have a life expectancy equal to humans, if not longer.
While this film does effectively uncover the horrific side of captivity, it has its flaws, as does everything. It does not show the positive outcomes of captivity, such as being kept from whale hunters' harm (ironically how they got there in the first place). The only good part of captivity to me would be if they were taken from the wild due to an illness or injury. That would justify captivity, because then it would be "rehabilitation." After being in captivity for a certain period of time they should be released back into the wild.
Arguments against the film could be that they did not use the correct footage during some parts of the movie; like the segment showing a trainer jumping onto a whale for a ride. During this part the film shows a former trainer talking about her first ride on a whale when she was in no way experienced for it. She was not the trainer in the video clip. To me this is not a big error because it still shows a trainer boarding a whale for a joy ride. The film was full of bias, but it was set to accomplish a goal and it fulfilled it. This film will either rip your heart out, or have you saying "Liar, Liar." I wasn't the latter. After viewing Blackfish I cannot think of SeaWorld as a safe haven anymore. Blackfish set out to expose SeaWorld and it effectively did so. It is by far my favorite documentary.