Documentary: The Cove

Not one for the faint hearted, The Cove is a documentary that must be seen to be believed as director Louie Psihoyos uncovers the truth surrounding a subject that has somehow been kept under wraps.

Ex-dolphin trainer turned activist Ric O'Barry is our guide into the world of dolphin mutilation. In the sixties, O'Barry worked on the iconic television show Flipper training the dolphins to perform the various stunts needed for the program.

Developing a strong bond with the animals and coming to appreciate their intelligence, it was here where he discovered that a dolphins smiling face is natures biggest con. After the death of one of his beloved animals, O'Barry vowed never again to allow them to be kept in captivity.

In the small coastal town of Taiji, trainers from around the world come to hand pick wild dolphins to take back to their various amusement parks. Using fear to herd the animals into a secluded cove, those not chosen are brutally killed for their meat rather than being released back into the ocean. As dolphin meat contains dangerously high levels of mercury which can result in birth defects, there seems to be no advantage to human consumption.

Security around this gruesome trade is tight and it soon becomes clear that O'Barry and Psihoyos won't out this secret in any conventional way. By going back to the drawing board they devise an Oceans 11 style heist to plant camouflage high-definition cameras in the infamous cove to capture damning footage and put an end to this unnecessary and brutal business.

It's clear that O'Barry's years in show business have paid off - in a scene that could almost be taken from a Hollywood heist movie, Taiji's top detectives question him about why a group of American's with suspicious looking luggage have accompanied him to their town. O'Barry utilizes his best acting abilities to humorous effect, dodging questions to continue the operation.

The documentary paints a clear picture of who the villain of this story is. In a vicious cycle that supports a bloodthirsty regime, in a round about way, it all comes down to money.

There's a bittersweet satisfaction in seeing the defenders of the cove come face to face with justice. In particular, one confrontational Japanese guard nicknamed after the only two English words he knows, Private Space.

While it may not be the most uplifting subject matter, The Cove is a tense, brave and provocative documentary that deserves to be seen if only to enlighten yourselves to this hidden horror. Like the documentary itself says; if you know the truth you'd want to put a stop to it and witnessing the footage these filmmakers uncovered is more than enough to convince anyone.

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