Film brings the world to ‘The Cove’ where the Japanese slaughter dolphins

“The Cove,” a documentary-thriller (more on that in a moment) about the ongoing slaughter of dolphins in a cove at Taiji, Japan, opens tonight in Los Angeles and New York and then will sweep across less stylish regions of the U.S. in August. It won the audience award at Sundance, but I wouldn’t expect broader audiences to award it vast commercial success, simply because who wants to sit in a darkened theater watching Flipper get corralled and harpooned until the sea turns red?
Nonetheless the film should bring needed attention to the plight of our dolphin brothers.
In the Chumash creation myth, dolphins are people who fell from the rainbow bridge between Santa Cruz Island, where people were created, and the California mainland, where Hutash, the earth goddess, sent them after they had been fruitful and multiplied. Hutash took pity on the drowning people by transforming them into dolphins. But just as the Chumash consider dolphins to be siblings, the Japanese think of them as food, and they defend the kill as a traditional cultural practice. People who live near Taiji have caught and eaten dolphins for centuries. They continue to kill about 23,000 dolphins each year.
The filmmakers claim dolphin meat from Taiji is sold on the Japanese market mislabeled as whale meat, and the Taiji cove is also where dolphins are caught to be sold to aquariums and shows. The film has been praised in early reviews for expanding its reach to make a statement about the condition of our oceans.
I’ve posted Kenneth Turan’s L.A. Times review because it’s more enlightening than the trailer alone, and it explains how the film plays more like a thriller than a documentary. The film features Ric O’Barry, an activist who served as a dolphin trainer for the TV show “Flipper” until a dolphin on that show, he believes, committed suicide. Well known in Taiji, O’Barry wears a surgical mask and sunglasses to conceal his identity (psst, he’s the guy in the surgical mask and sunglasses). There’s no overt slaughter shown in this clip:
[youtubevid id=”7bE3KAuWaz8″]

Tip Jar: If you found value on this page, please consider tipping the author.