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  Publicity Stills of
"The Cove"
(Courtesy of GV)

Genre: Documentary
Director: Louie Psihoyos
RunTime: 1 hr 30 mins
Released By: GV
Rating: PG
Official Website: http://www.thecovemovie.com/

Opening Day: 27 August 2009


In the 1960's, Richard O'Barry was the world's leading authority on dolphin training, working on the set of the popular television program "Flipper." Day in and day out, O'Barry kept the dolphins working and television audiences smiling. But one day, that all came to a tragic end. "The Cove," directed by Louie Psihoyos, tells the amazing true story of how Psihoyos, O'Barry and an elite team of activists, filmmakers and freedivers embarked on a covert mission to penetrate a hidden cove in Japan, shining light on a dark and deadly secret. The mysteries they uncovered were only the tip of the iceberg.

Movie Review:

Waters are supposed to be blue, not red. Unless they are tainted with blood, lots of blood.

The above statement may give you some clue what to expect in this finely made production. And don’t say we didn’t warn you: Get ready some tissues when you watch this documentary film documenting the annual killing of more than 2500 dolphins in a cove at Taiji, Japan.

Who knew one could shed tears just by seeing how these adorable creatures are cruelly treated by humans? Who knew one could whiff in grief seeing how these lovable marine creatures are being wiped off the face of Earth as we speak? Who knew one could retort in anger seeing how these delightful animals are mindlessly slaughtered in a hidden corner which shuts itself off from mainstream media?

Didn’t know about that? No worries, because this is what a documentary does, informing you of the many things you didn’t know happening around you. In this case, the Louis Psihoyos directed film goes a step further – It takes on a very one sided viewpoint and makes sure you know the unabashedly subjective viewpoint of the filmmakers. In what the film quotes as an “activist” movement, you’d know where this manipulatively engaging picture is, barely five minutes into its runtime. The former National Geographic photographer has something to say, and he makes sure you’d remember it.

Not that this is a bad thing though, because this documentary does have a worthwhile message to relay, and it presents itself from an interesting angle of a piece of investigative journalism. In fact, the 90 minute production almost feels like an action thriller, where a group of activists takes on a mission to uncover the truth behind the international dolphin trade that’s happening in Japan. In Mission Impossible style, viewers would be introduced to state of the art equipment and technologies of hidden microphones and cameras, to attain footage of a shocking truth that will leave you dumbfounded.

Before it takes on this direction, your sentiments are set all warm and fuzzy of nostalgic visuals of the popular TV series Flipper, where renowned dolphin trainer Richard O’ Barry sheds some light about the truth behind the happy stories you remember from the 1960s series. Once the documentary has fired up your emotions about the endearing creatures, it goes on to present its very personal views about this undesired trade. All fingers point towards the Japanese, making them look like immoral villains with no love for nature and environment. There have been articles claiming that the filmmakers aren’t presenting the truth on screen, making use of computer technology to manipulate facts and reality, but we’d think otherwise.

With an Audience Award at the Sundance Film Festival this year, and countless other accolades at other international film festivals, we are guessing that it will only go on to greater heights – a nomination at next year’s Academy Awards, perhaps?

What stands out evidently is the very strong call to action when the film comes to an end. You may just find yourself taking down the website addresses so that you can make a difference to the situation. Such is the power of an effective documentary.

Yes, we are bought by this documentary. It’s got stunning cinematography, a lovely soundtrack score, an appealing structure and some very amusing moments. And more importantly, there are a couple of images so stark and disturbing, we are damn sure you’d remember them for years to come.

Movie Rating:

(You have to see this. Really)

Review by John Li


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