Director: Gabriela Cowperthwaite
Running Time: 83 mins
Blackfish is an American documentary about the controversial keeping of killer whales in captivity, and the dangers of this for both humans and whales, shown by the story of Tilikum, a historically aggressive and murderous whale at SeaWorld in Orlando.
Well, for a documentary, this was amazingly thrilling. It harnesses a psychologically and graphically horrific concept, and turns it into an unbelievably fascinating and powerful story about the dangers of keeping animals as large as orcas in captivity.
The main thing about this film is how passionate it is, and how much it does change your perspective of these animals in captivity. I went into this film with a very abstinent stance, and came out having had a hugely informative experience.
There is a big danger with this film, though. Yes, it may be informative and powerful, but it is unbelievably one-sided against the institutions like SeaWorld and the captivity of these creatures. I don’t wish to get dragged into the debate, but I have to say that in this film, you get pretty much nothing defending or even addressing the other side, and that does make for a very opinionated story on the part of this film.
Anyway, moving away from the political side of things, as an experience, this film is fantastic. Throughout, it tugs at your heartstrings, and makes you really sympathise for the killer whales, which left me truly moved by the end, and its extremely emotional qualities are what make it so engaging to watch.
That’s not the only thing that hits you hard, though. As if you’re watching some horror-thriller, this film is actually very graphic. It shows a whole heap of footage of attacks of killer whales on humans at aquariums, some of which is quite gory, all of which is hugely impacting, and that ends up being the core of what makes this film so hard-hitting.
There’s also a fascinating, but disturbing look at the psychological effects of the captivity on the whales. The film follows the story of Tilikum from being a baby in the ocean to the infamous giant he is today, and you see that, as his life goes on, he becomes ever more psychologically disturbed, more and more often resorting to aggressive acts against humans and other whales, including one specific example which is absolutely horrifying, which clearly shows how captivity impacts these animals.
Overall, this film gets an 8.4, because despite its very evident agenda, it’s a fascinating, informative, and thrilling documentary that really does change your outlook on something that used to seem so innocent.