Movie Review: The Cove (2009)

Posted: April 7, 2012 in Documentary


The tiny fishing village of Taij in Japan holds a secret, that it doesn’t want the rest of the country or the world to know,  Taiji is the epicenter of the captive dolphin trade, that is they trap dolphins and sell them to water themed parks like Sea World for over 150,000 dollars, what  the fishermen do with  the dolphins that they don’t sell to aquariums is the truly appalling part.  Ric O’Barry and director Louie Psihoyos lead an undercover team of documentary filmmakers to expose the secret in Taiji,  O’Barry was the trainer of the various dolphins in the tv show “Flipper” and used to be a proponent of keeping dolphins in captivity, but no longer, and what he uncovers in Taiji is mind-numbingly sickening.  The documentarians sought to get an agreement with the mayor of Taiji to do a documentary in the open, but after talks fell through, the crew of this movie went deep undercover, using night vision equipment, and even hiding mini cameras in rocks along the cove where all the action takes place.  What is the secret that this village is holding so close to the vest?  What is being done to stop it?

This is compelling movie making.  From the start the film makers cast themselves as outlaws, working outside of the law chased by local police and government authorities, to uncover a dirty little secret that even most Japanese are unaware of, and the tension build and builds between the filmmakers and local authorities, and then in the final few frames of the film, the viewer sees what all the fuss is about, and trust me the images will be left indelibly on your soul. What amazes me is the lengths to which Japan tries to cover this story up, using its economic power to but votes for its untenable position in the International Whaling Commission, a largely toothless international organization.  What is also shocking is that the Japanese are not only endangering dolphins with their callous actions, but also the health of their own citizens.  Documentaries rarely make me want to do anything, I watched Sicko with a bemused detachment, it had no effect on me.  The Cove left me with a different mindset.  I wanted to expose this secret to as many people as I could, and in my small way, bring these practices to an end.  The government of Japan still won’t let the Japanese people watch this movie, find out why.

The Cove. Uncover its secrets.


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