Sunday, September 12, 2010

Best of the Decade #16: The Cove (2009)

This will come as no surprise to anyone who frequents this blog.
The story of "The Cove" goes back to the 1960's when Ric O'Barry was head animal trainer on the hit TV show "Flipper". Fast forward more than 40 years, and O'Barry is now one of the foremost activists and protesters against the capture and captivity of dolphins. His biggest target is the small Japanese coastal village of Taiji, where thousands of dolphins are slaughtered every year. Director Louie Psihoyos realized he needed more help to bring down the cruel operation concealed in Taiji, so he assembled a crack team of divers and technicians to infiltrate the closely guarded cove where the slaughter takes place and plant cleverly hidden cameras and microphones to capture the incriminating footage.

It is in his structuring of the story that Psihoyos makes "The Cove" a success; seamlessly interweaving his clandestine activities with the political background of Japan's whaling and fisheries, revealing governmental cover-ups and misdoings that have gone unacknowledged since the 1980's. This both keeps the film firmly grounded in reality and heightens our anticipation for the continuation of the cloak-and-dagger story arc. Constructed like a pulsating heist movie, it's more thrilling than most of the fictional product emerging from Hollywood today. It's perfectly edited, energetically scored, and features some truly miraculous photography.

But all the excitement, danger, and even humour of our heroes secret mission is quickly left behind when we finally get to see the footage they attained. Presented in its grisly entirety with full unadulterated audio, it may well be the most flooring and disturbing piece of cinema you'll ever see. You don't want to watch, yet you can't look away. That such horrific massacres have been happening regularly in Taiji for decades is staggering.

This was an excerpt from my full review.

This unsettling underwater shot that gradually becomes obscured beyond visibility by the descending blood of slain dolphins was far and away my favourite from last year.

1 comment:

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