Friday, August 29, 2014

A Documentary Recommendation: Blackfish

Once again, I am writing a post that, in one sense, has nothing to do with politics but in another sense has everything to do with it and much more. If we consider political systems simply a methodology by which we engage with the our fellow human beings and the larger world, then the film I am about to recommend is a very political one.

As I have indicated in past posts, I have a real appetite for well-made documentaries. Blackfish falls into that category.

Balckfish explores the world of orcas, also known as killer whales. In fact, they are part of the dolphin family and like dolphins, they are sentient, very intelligent self-aware animals that have suffered tremendously at the hands of another animal, the human being. The film focuses on the terrible suffering, sometimes to the point of psychosis, that orcas experience in captivity. Seaworld in Orlando comes in for particular scrutiny, as does one particular captive performer, Tilikum, responsible for the deaths of three people. And yet Tilikum, as you will see, is hardly the villain of the piece.

I must confess that I watched the film in stages. Disturbing and moving, especially in scenes showing the capture of orcas in the wild and the responses of their families nearby watching and keening helplessly while their babies are taken, it is at times emotionally overpowering as we are yet again made witness to the kind of human folly that has made this world such a precarious place for all life today.

Balckfish is available on Netflix, or you can watch it below:

Blackfish Find out what really happens at... by NovaCotton


  1. I just can't bring myself to watch it, Lorne. I've had a few orca encounters in the Strait of Juan de Fuca and the Georgia Strat and the notion of them being confined to an orca-size toilet bowl is repulsive. Once I was with some friends returning to Vancouver from a fishing/camping trip to Galiano Island. I was at the back sorting out tackle when I spotted something out of the corner of my eye, first left then right. Within seconds I realized our small boat was in the midst of a pod of orca. They were in front of us, to both sides and behind. They escorted us most of the way across the Georgia Strait, I guess around 30-minutes. As various orca cruised alongside the boat you could tell they had a real curiosity about us but they were so calm. It's the sort of encounter one can never forget.

    Several years ago a friend of mine was taking refreshing noon hour dip in Nanaimo's Pipers Lagoon to cool off on a hot August day. The first he knew he wasn't alone was when he heard a "whoosh" behind him. As he turned he was passed at a short distance by a female orca and her calf. Both eyed him and then went on their way around the lagoon and back out to sea. He said he was first terrified but quickly realized they meant him no harm.

    1. Some of the footing in the film, Mound, shows pods of orcas frolicking in the open sea. To witness such activity, I thought to myself, must be awe-inspiring. I envy you your experience.

      While I admit the film was difficult to watch, I am glad I did, emblematic as it is of our broken relationship with the rest of nature, for which all of us, as you well know and write about, are all beginning to pay a heavy price, one that will become much dearer in the future.

      All of that being said, there are also limits to what I can bear. An award-winning documentary about which much has been written, The Cove,' whose subject is the killing of dolphins, is one I have resolved never to watch. I just think it would be too much for me.

  2. .. a ways back, MoS was loading his BMW and taking a break from providing prescient and contemporary analysis of environmental realities. I sent him a link to my first novel.. still lacking a literary agent or publisher.. which I posted online via wordpress.. Diamond Walker .. a tale of a West Coast shamen youth, Orca, and the game of baseball..

    A sequel is well underway & with draft chapters online called 'Hunter Walker' centered around Jimmy 'Diamond' Walker's father, Hunter. Also set in coastal BC as well as Banff, Alberta & the various pipeline infrastructures.. and will include the aspect of Chinese dilbit and LNG supertankers illegally attempting the Douglas Straits

    The Harper Government is intent on eliminating wild salmon in favor of Norwegian farmed salmon in BC waters.. and by default wiping out local Orca pods.. no different than doing the same to boreal caribou by eliminating habitat.

    I am currently adapting both properties to reflect events and legislation more current and devestating than I could imagine.

    For what its worth.. here is access to Diamond Walker

    1. Thanks, Salamander. I shall be sure to check it out.