Documentary Review: Blackfish (2013)

Release Date: January 19th, 2013 (Sundance)
Directed by: Gabriela Cowperthwaite
Music by: Jeff Beal

CNN Films, Manny O. Productions, Magnolia Pictures, 83 Minutes


*written in 2015.

I finally got around to watching the film Blackfish. It isn’t that I was in denial or something about SeaWorld and other oceanic theme parks questionable treatment of animals, as I have been aware of this stuff for quite some time. I simply put it off because I knew what I was going to get before I got it.

The film was well done and well presented. The interviews with ex-trainers who worked for Sea World added credence to this documentary’s claims and message. Sure, every documentary ever made has its own agenda but regardless of how you feel about either side of the coin in regards to the treatment of performance animals, in this case – killer whales, you can’t deny the fact that they don’t have much free will and that living an unnatural life is probably going to create some stress for the animals.

Now Sea World didn’t participate in the documentary, as they knew what the agenda was here. They have however rebutted with a website of their own that gives their position on things spoken about within the film, as well as examples within the film that they find untrue or misleading. That website is here and if you have a strong opinion about Sea World but haven’t read their side, you should.

Point being, it is very easy to get emotionally invested in this film – I was. However, you have to know that it is creating a narrative and has a specific purpose for existing. Most documentaries are propaganda of some form. What I am saying is that you shouldn’t just attach yourself wholeheartedly to one side of the argument, without listening to the other side. Critical thinking, y’all.

Now I am not taking Sea World’s side, as I think forcing animals to perform for people in this sort of capacity is something that we as a soceity need to evolve beyond. I have no problem however with Sea World helping animals in need and for all the contributions they give to these causes. However, I am aware that in this day and age, the way for Sea World to make money in the first place, is by putting these animals on display. So what’s the right answer?

But this is a film review, not a political discussion.

In the end, Blackfish told its argument well and I can see where this will be damaging to Sea World. Does it mean that what they said or in most cases implied was factual? Not necessarily. Regardless, the point got across and this documentary achieved what it was trying to achieve.

Rating: 6.5/10