People who know me, will not be surprised to hear that I cried at a film, but the difference here is that it's not a Hollywood movie using sentimental tricks to pull my heartstrings, this is because of an eye-opening documentary based on real-life events.
Yesterday I went to see The Cove, which I have to say is compelling and emotional viewing.
Most people will probably have fond memories of the 60's TV series about the adventures of the Bottlenose Dolphin 'Flipper', but unfortunately most of us don't know the full story about dolphins kept in captivity for our amusement, be it on TV shows or in marine-life amusement parks.
Richard O'Barry was the leading authority on dolphin training after his involvement in the TV series, but after ten years in the industry and the death of one of the five female 'Flipper's' used in the show, he realised his mistakes and has spent the rest of his life campaigning to return these creatures back to their natural ocean home.
The Cove is about how the Director of the documentary film and co-founder of the Oceanic Preservation Society, Louie Psihoyos, O'Barry and an elite team of activists, filmmakers and world famous freedivers, embarked on a dangerous covert mission to uncover the secrets of a hidden Japanese cove with a dark secret.
Sadly that secret of the fishing village of Taiji involves the slaughter of 23,000 dolphins every year.
A little while ago I remember hearing about 'Heroes' TV star Hayden Panettierre being involved in a protest to save some dolphins, but I didn't understand the immensity of the situation. The efforts of Panettierre and her fellow peaceful protestors are featured briefly in the film, but their story is just one strand in the broader scheme of things (but good for her for getting involved).
Sadly these deaths are mainly caused by the need to acquire new performing captive dolphins for the likes of Sea-World amusement parks around the world, where dolphins can fetch up to $150,000 a piece, unfortunately for those who don't look the part they are senselessly slaughtered.
Also did you know that even though their trademark smile makes them look happy, that a lot of these dolphins are given medication constantly for ulcers due to the stress of their captivity.
The Japanese government say they are a 'pest' and that they, along with whales, are responsible for the Earth's diminishing fish supplies and not humans for over-fishing (how an intelligent nation that is responsible for inventing so many technological marvels can expect us to believe this reasoning is quite frankly beyond me).
The other reason given for the killing is for food, as whale-meat is eaten in Japan. What most people in Japan don't realise is that dolphins, aside from being highly intelligent creatures, contain toxic levels of mercury due to mankind's continuing pollution of the world's eco-system. Japan's population also don't realise when they think they are buying whale-meat it may actually be dolphin-meat in disguise.
The film exposes all these 'truths' and also the corruption of the Japanese government bribing other poorer nations to support their call for continued whale hunting.
I'm not so naive as to know there are more issues and politics behind everything that is happening and that this documentary is a very biased view, but the facts are clear, 23,000 dolphins are being secretly killed each year in Taiji.
The killing season is due to start again in September, so hopefully this film can go some way to shed some light on Japan's actions and the need to stop this barbaric practice.
It goes without saying that I was moved by this movie, I'm not ashamed it caused me to shed a tear or two, and I just hope that by writing about the movie more people will find out about the plight of the dolphins. I know I'll never be able to go to another amusement park with any performing dolphins or whales ever again and would urge my friends and family to do the same.
Do your part. Go see the movie and check out the official website for The Cove to view the film trailer and see how you can help the campaign to stop the killing.
From a cinematic point of view it is well made, totally engaging viewing and almost like a real-life thriller at times, so I'd have to say it's a four **** star experience.
For more photographs of the covert camera equipment used in The Cove visit Hollywood Movie costumes and Props.