2010 Oscar winner The Cove is a documentary that looks into and questions the morality of
hunting policy. The film shows viewers evidence of the 23,000 dolphins which
are killed in Japan each year. It also touches
upon the trade of catching and selling dolphins for the entertainment industry. Taiji, Japan
The main interviewee is Ric O’Barry, the man responsible for training dolphins for the 1960s TV show Flipper. After his favourite dolphin is said to have committed suicide, O’Barry turned away from dolphin training and vowed to free every captured dolphin he could. After discovering the cruel practice of dolphin killing in Taiji, O’Barry has spent many years fighting the local fisherman and government and trying to bring the killing to the attention of the international community, with little success.
The Cove in question is a secluded bay in Taiji which is protected from prying eyes by guards and razor wire. The film makers attempt to show the world what happens behind the fences by sneaking down to the cove at night and placing cameras hidden in fake rocks. The two scenes in which the crew attempt this are extremely tense. Once we see the pictures from the hidden cameras, the true nature of the cruelty is seen for the first time and it is extremely difficult to watch. Dolphins are herded into the cove using a wall of sound and trapped by nets overnight. The next day, fishermen go into the bay in small boats and harpoon each dolphin several times while they flail in pain. Once each animal is almost dead they are hauled onto boats with spiked rods. The sea is turned a deep shade of red and the whole scene is disgusting and gruesome.
Personally I have no problem with the fact that dolphins are killed for food. If humans are willing to eat cows then why not horses, dogs and dolphins too? It is a strange ideal that we have that only certain animals are edible. What I do have a problem with though is the incredible cruelty and indifference to the animals suffering. My main problem with the film is that as a brilliant piece of propaganda it shows western people going to
cute dolphins from the evil Japanese. If the Japanese had a particular affinity
for chickens then they could make exactly the same film in Europe or Japan set
around the practice of battery farming. While the cruelty is universal, the
practice is very much subjective depending upon where you are from. The film
makers try to further persecute the Japanese by stating that they can be
arrested and imprisoned without charge for 30 days. This just made me think of America where their countrymen keep people
without charge for much longer than 30 days. Guantanamo Bay
Overall the film is a damming report of Japanese fishing policy and shows extreme and unnecessary cruelty. It is also one of the most one sided and biased documentaries I’ve seen and is very much shown from a Western ecological perspective. That being said, I think it is important that cruelty and injustice is shown, whether it be animal or human and this film has bought to light a disgraceful practice which would have otherwise gone unreported.