The Cove has been on my must watch list for years, and after having the privilege of seeing Blackfish at Sundance London I was motivated to finally watch this documentary, which concerns the mass slaughter of Japan’s dolphin population. The title, The Cove, relates to a cove in the relatively unassuming coastal town of Taiji where, every year from September to March, local fisherman manipulate the resident dolphins’ incredible sensitivity to sound by banging on large steel polls in the water, terrifying them and driving them into the cove where they can easily be harpooned and killed. Known by very few and with no evidence up until now, The Cove pushes boundaries in it’s condemnation of Japan’s whaling heritage and champions conservationism and investigative journalism with its quest for indisputable evidence.
The dolphins are arguably the stars of this show; long, ethereal, lingering shots, stock footage and testimonials paint a compelling picture of the complexity and depth of these beautiful creatures, however the film makers themselves make just as compelling subjects for the film. The shared passion, skill and emotion of the team who put themselves at great risk of imprisonment and/or physical danger, leaps off the screen and engulfs you. The argument they make is whole, coherent and it’s difficult to feel anything less than awe.
Admirably, despite the strength of the message, the cinematic heart of the film is also amazingly strong. There is an impressive amount of stock footage utilised throughout and a plethora of relatively unheard information; this ensured the film had pace, depth and a substance that kept The Cove from appearing preachy or wishy washy. Any counter argument of pro-whaling could be met with counter counter argument and every ‘no’ was countered with a more extreme and impassioned way of delivering the message. All-in-all, The Cove took my breath away. The initial success of Blackfish has done nothing to detract from what a powerful piece of film making this is.
Shocking, moving and ground breaking, this documentary should be seen by everyone, everywhere.