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COVE, THE(director/writer: Louie Psihoyos; screenwriter: Mark Monroe; cinematographer: Brook Aitken; editor: Geoffrey Richman; music: J. Ralph; cast: Richard O’Barry, Joe Chisholm, Mandy-Rae Cruikshank, Charles Hambleton, Kirk Krack, Isabel Lucas, Roger Payne, Hayden Panettiere, Louie Psihoyos, Paul Watson; Runtime: 92; MPAA Rating: PG-13; producers: Fisher Stevens/Paula DuPr√© Pesman; Roadside Attractions; 2009)
“Tells you with its heart all you want to know about why it’s necessary to free the dolphins from captivity and slaughter.”

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

Activist Louie Psihoyos (co-founder with Jim Clark of the Oceanic Preservation Society and photographer for National Geographic) directs this engaging eco-thriller as a mystery story that tells you with its heart all you want to know about why it’s necessary to free the dolphins from captivity and slaughter, and how bad it is for you to eat dolphin meat because of its high levels of toxic mercury. The sincere activists are spearheaded by renowned dolphin trainer Ric O’Barry of Flipper TV series fame, who turned against the industry that made him rich and he helped start in the 1960s to dedicate himself as a marine crusader for the last 35 years or so (after Flipper, known as Kathy, died in his arms as a suicide vic) to stop the shocking mistreatment and slaughter of the dolphins any way he could–which means confrontations and many arrests.

Using state-of-the-art night vision HD cameras camouflaged in the fake landscape by George Lucas’ innovative ILM special effects technician, Ric and his crew get on camera the slaughter of the dolphins in a secret cove, forbidden for the public to photograph, in Japan’s Taiji island (there are 23,000 dolphins that are killed per year just in that spot). By opening up this Pandora’s box, the activists have let loose how its big business to capture dolphins (sold live to amusement parks like Sea World for $150,000 per dolphin), slaughter them to sell for food, and how its suicidal for the sensitive dolphins to face all the stress from such captivity.

The film exposes the heinous crimes against nature that has the Japanese government in collusion with the fishing industry, and how it bribes the media to cover-up their suspicious activities so that most people in Japan and around the world are not aware of the slaughter.

It’s a compelling rogue polemical investigative journalistic film that’s in your face and rightfully wants the general public, not only animal lovers, to wake up and protest this inexcusable slaughter of intelligent life that feels the pain the captors have inflicted on it. The top-of-the-line no-nonsense film, obtaining its film evidence the only way it could–by illegally defying the Japanese government’s ban on filming the secret cove, should open up the eyes of those who care about justice, the suffering of other creatures and living in harmony with nature.

It won the audience award at Sundance.


Dennis Schwartz: “Ozus’ World Movie Reviews”