Release Date
July 19, 2013
Gabriela Cowperthwaite
Gabriela Cowperthwaite
Eli Despres
Tim Zimmermann
Distributed By
Magnolia Pictures
$1.5 million
Documentary, Drama
Rated PG-13 for mature thematic elements including disturbing and violent images
83 minutes


Not since “The Cove”, have I felt this strongly about a particular subject and it just so happens they are very similar in nature, with “The Cove” delving into the capture and killing of dolphins in Japan, while “Blackfish” dives into the world of capturing orcas and training them to work at SeaWorld despite their eventual aggression. What Cowperthwaite does best in directing this documentary is collecting all this data about these whales and their actions and putting it into one place. The common denominator from most the present interviews is that no one person was ever told all the facts, apart from the executives of SeaWorld, who were never present in the documentary.

With the death of an expert whale trainer Dawn Brancheau as a backdrop, along with the timeline of the whale, Tilikum, the enormous whale that killed her, provides for some interesting and jaw-dropping evidence. Pair with that tons of actual footage of killer whales attacking their trains, the paperwork that over 70 incidents have occurred like this in the last 40 years, and interviews with experts saying that orcas in the wild have the same lifespan as humans (90-100 years), despite SeaWorld’s claim that a) their average lifespan is 25-30 years, because that’s how long they live in captivity, and b) being captured and placed in these tanks actually make them live longer.

Cowperthwaite also does a great job at making you understand more about these whales and even feeling for them. Majestic and supposedly extremely intelligent, experts discuss everything from their brains, which in ways are more developed than humans especially in the emotional part of the brain, to the facts that there are no recorded incidents of killer whales being aggressive to humans in the wild and, in fact, are quite friendly, as displayed in many home videos of whales coming up to the side of boats. The more you look at these magnificent creatures, the more you understand the plight that all these former trainers and Cowperthwaite are going through to try and close the doors of SeaWorld. There’s very few documentaries that I’ve seen that truly inspire change but “Blackfish” will, if anything, help parents make a more educated decision in what they expose their children to, and in time, could hopefully show SeaWorld the errors of their ways.


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