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What parents need to know
Parents need to know that The Cove is the 2009 Oscar winner for Best Documentary. It contains brief, but disturbing and gruesome imagery around the slaughter of dolphins in Taiji, Japan. Though the movie contains a plethora of information about dolphins, the arc of the story focuses on the dangerous attempts to gather proof of the dolphin slaughters. The movie is informative, interesting, and inspiring, but contains shocking pictures: blood-red water, fishermen striking blows, and dolphins struggling and dying. Also, there's an almost constant tension in the film, an ever-present threat of violence. The goal of the movie is to inspire audiences that something can be done, but sensitive and younger viewers might wish to avoid it.
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What's the story?
THE COVE shows how, in the small fishing village of Taiji, Japan, thousands of dolphins are slaughtered every year. Some of them are captured and sold to theme parks for huge amounts of money, and poisonous dolphin meat (with its high mercury content) is passed off at fish markets, labeled as other products. Former dolphin trailer Ric O'Barry, who is famous for his work on the Flipper TV series of the 1960s, is now an activist devoted to saving and freeing the dolphins. Teamed up with a squad of experts, his job is to set up cameras and audio equipment in order to capture hard proof of the gory and disturbing slaughter. Unfortunately, the Japanese authorities are well aware of O'Barry and his agenda, and are keeping a close eye on him.
Is it any good?
Winner of the 2009 Oscar for Best Documentary, this film will probably turn away many viewers with the promise of gruesome footage of slaughtered dolphins. But The Cove is such a powerful, informative, and inspirational movie that all of the footage somehow meshes as part of the same experience.
It's amazing how the film balances its many storylines in a compact 90 minutes. We learn about the life and career of former dolphin trainer Ric O'Barry, the efforts of the Japanese government to legally continue their practices, the intelligence and/or awareness of dolphins, the effects of mercury in dolphin meat, and many other facts and opinions. The main drive of the movie -- O'Barry and his team's efforts to set up their cameras to film proof of the dolphin slaughter -- is as suspenseful as a spy film, and the end result is a combination of elating and devastating.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the disturbing and violent images in The Cove. Was it necessary to show them?
Are Ric O'Barry's methods to save the dolphins drastic, or are they appropriate? What else could people do to help?
If the dolphins are smarter than humans, what types of things might they teach us?
What other atrocities are happening in the world in the name of greed and profit? What are some of the other ways we can stop them?
- In theaters: July 31, 2009
- On DVD or streaming: December 8, 2009
- Cast: Richard O'Barry
- Director: Louie Psihoyos
- Studio: Lionsgate
- Genre: Documentary
- Character strengths: Courage, Integrity, Perseverance, Teamwork
- Run time: 92 minutes
- MPAA rating: PG-13
- MPAA explanation: disturbing content
- Last updated: September 21, 2019
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