Last night a few friends gathered to watch The Cove, the audience award-winning film from Sundance everyone is buzzing about. Not since An Inconvenient Truth has a room been silenced into such abject shock coupled with an intense desire to act. The Cove accomplishes exactly what great documentaries are supposed to -- it moves you, engages you, thrills you, enrages you.
The Cove is its own quirky hybrid -- part action film, part heist, part environmental justice battle cry, with a very real modern day hero, Ric O'Barry. Remember the beloved 1960s television show Flipper? Well Barry was the trainer of that dolphin. He came up with the techniques and the idea of capturing dolphins and taming them. As a result, along with a hit TV series, an entire captive dolphin industry was born. Maybe your kids recently visited a "swimming with dolphins" exhibit on their last spring break. Ours did.
Anyway Barry has spent the last three decades trying to undo the damage he believes he set into motion. A more heartbreaking protagonist doesn't exist.
Barry and his team risk their lives to take us deep inside the dolphin trade in Japan, exposing a practice so disturbing that no judge or jury with a conscience would allow it.
Now we have to face the truth. This film is going to make headlines and it's going to lead to major reforms because that is what powerful, truthful filmmaking does at its best. Audiences will demand action. The truth is a bitter pill to swallow but the dolphins' fate, and ours too, hang in the balance.
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