Customer Review

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Deeply unsettling, 15 Oct. 2012
This review is from: The Cove [DVD] [2009] (DVD)
This is one of those -must-watch' documentaries.

On one level, it doesn't tell us anything that new. What it manages to achieve is to graphically and convincingly demonstrate the sheer degree of cultural self-interest and profound deception involved in Japan's continued espousal of whaling. The documentary intends us to be shocked by the level of brutality and butchery perpetrated against dolphins, and it achieves this in some measure with its final scenes in the 'cove' where the seawater becomes blood. And whilst it is right that we be shocked, I did find myself wondering if there was something that inherently singled out dolphins for moral outrage, given humanity's awful crimes against so many other species, or indeed against other human beings.

The moral/ethical implications are not explored in depth, but highlighted for us within the documentary. Setting aside for one moment any reservations about the specific focus on dolphins, we were presented with the issue of mercury poisoning, and the fact that the practice of dolphin-butchery was explicitly attempting to feed this toxin-laden meat to junior-school children - and apparently with full governmental collusion. We were shown dolphin meat, with up to 2000ppm of mercury contamination, in vacuum packs in supermarket chiller cabinets in Tokyo, mislabeled as something completely different. For me, it was this chilling combination of profoundly unethical and deceptive practices being used to get toxic food substances into the human food chain which got my attention - the kind of ethos which cultivated the macabre deceptions at Taiji was connected to the feeding of poisons to human children.

This, then, supplies the most frightening message of the film. It demonstrates beyond any reasonable doubt the kind of perversion within human nature and culture which connects these things together, so that the outrage at Taiji becomes coterminous with the deceptions and self-interest of local fishermen and authorities, or with Japan's dubious representatives on the IWC, or indeed the preparedness of other IWC Members to look the other way, culminating in the feeding of lethal levels of mercury to young human children.

The documentary ought to cause us to weep for these dolphins, as the researchers involved clearly did. But it should lead us to weep for a culture which actually colludes in its own destruction by feeding poison to the next generation, even whilst it actively destroys its own natural environment.
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