Blackfish (2013)

For years, the debate over animal captivity has raged on. With massive amounts of evidence against captivity, you’d think that something would have been done by now. Unfortunately, many animals are caught and raised in the confines of a cage or a tank. Then, most captured animals breed in captivity and the owners of the Zoos and Aquariums rejoice, as most people love babies of any sort. There is also the debate over what happens to “killer” animals that have no respect for authority and pose a danger for audiences. In that case, who’s the real killer? The animal in captivity, or the captors themselves?

Tilikum massively outweighs his onlooking trainer.

Tilikum massively outweighs his on-looking trainer.

Tilikum is the infamous Killer Whale that has caused quite a bit of trouble for SeaWorld. Not only did Tilikum kill three trainers, but one of those trainers was a top Killer Whale trainer. Debate sparked over what to do with the whale, but it has remained on display since. Shocking and horrific video clips display the whale’s ferocity and killer instincts, while interviews with trainers and advocates for the whale’s release provide more informative information.

As the information piles up, we learn that Tilikum and all Killer Whales are incredibly intelligent. With this knowledge, the debate is sparked about whether or not it’s okay to keep an intelligent animal in captivity. It must know that it’s been trapped and is on display for humans, so how in the world is it okay for its captivity to continue? With emotional testimonies and heart-wrenching facts, Blackfish will touch your heart and prompt you to stand up tall for a more than worthy cause.

Tilikum is put on display for everybody.

Tilikum is put on display for everybody.

The biggest thought that I had going through my head while watching this film was “I have been to SeaWorld and I have seen a Killer Whale in person.” When I was a child, I went to SeaWorld and had the time of my life. Being young, I never thought that there was anything wrong with this Killer Whale entertaining me. Looking back, I can’t believe that I was there and I can’t believe that these Killer Whales are trained to entertain and live in captivity for their whole lives. Now, I see the bigger picture and I feel inclined to do my part to help these whales.

Director Gabriela Cowperthwaite does an incredible job with this film on almost every level. With and 83 minute runtime, the film is quick to present its information and you still manage to retain it all. The facts are solid and all represent the best interest for the whales and their well-being. Rather than them spending hours in a dark tank, they should be out in the free waters with others of their kind. Instead of being trained for hours a day and being rewarded with food, they should be swimming about and finding their own food. The tanks that become their homes are small and limiting to every creature that finds themselves stuck in one.

Here, Tilikum is being ridden by a trainer.

Here, Tilikum is being ridden by a trainer.

A lot of debate has arisen over the fact that Tilikum is used to help create offspring. Through human-helped action, Tilikum is forced to aid SeaWorld’s quest to birth more whales. This act in itself is disgusting and the fact that they’ve gotten away with it is deplorable. Couple this fact with the fact that Tilikum spends hours a day in darkness, and it’s not hard to see why he would be aggressive. A lot of fire comes down on the captive whale for being the aggressive one, but I don’t think that it’s just, and neither does Cowperthwaite. If you’d been taken captive and forced to entertain in the worst conditions for the rest of your life, wouldn’t you be upset?

The methods of capturing the whales are on full display and the culture shock that they experience is horrifying. After you see how he was treated by other whales in captivity and the life that he lives, it’s no wonder that Tilikum happened to kill three people. The film does a wonderful job with getting across why these whales have reason to be aggressive and why they should be set free.

Is this the life that Tilikum was hoping for?

Is this the life that Tilikum was hoping for?

It would have been nice to hear the responses from SeaWorld and have them provide their facts, but it’s understandable why that wasn’t included. However, I think that hearing both sides and being able to compare them would have made this film all the more powerful. Being 83 minutes, this film can only show and tell you so much, but I can’t help feeling that it leaves some important things out. I would have loved to hear more about other incidents where whales lashed out at trainers and how their aggressions relate to Tilikum’s.

Other than those minor complaints, I really enjoyed Blackfish in the oddest sense of the word. I came out of the film more informed and determined to do anything I could. No one would want to be kept from their homes and put on display and that argument is one of the highlights of this film. Before you go to SeaWorld or even think about going, I’d ask that you watch this film and strongly reconsider that thought. Blackfish is a film that needs to be seen and is one that will help keep whales like Tilikum where they belong.

Blackfish Trailer

4.5 STARS!!!

4.5 / 5 stars     

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