Analysis Of The 2013 Documentary Blackfish

783 words - 4 pages

Blackfish is a 2013 documentary attempting to elevate public awareness regarding the orca that are being kept in maritime amusement parks, specifically SeaWorld, and the inherent danger of their captivity. The film is effective because it raises a set of important ethical questions for the viewer while presenting with a necessary fact-based style of documentation that does not evoke gratuitous scenes of abuse in order to inspire sympathy, unlike some of the other films that are intended to raise awareness about animal abuse.
The film focuses on one orca, commonly referred to as a killer whale, in particular by the name of Tilikum. The documentary begins as a group of contract fishermen hunt a family of killer whales off the coast of Iceland. The hunters are attempting to capture the whales so that they can be put on display for entertainment purposes at various aquatic parks around the world. They succeed in catching Tilikum, a large male orca, along with two other females, and almost immediately, an important question is raised in the viewer’s mind: What gives humanity the right to incarcerate and separate these animals from their natural environment and their families? As the documentary progresses, Tilikum begins to exhibit frustration and aggressive behavior at the amusement park due to the fact that he is being kept in a small underwater storage container when not on display. Eventually, this treatment leads Tilikum to kill his trainer by dragging her to the bottom of the performance tank and forcing her to drown. At this point, another question is presented: Is Tilikum’s aggressive behavior a product of nature, and the nature of orcas as a species, or is it due to his coerced captivity? Over the course of the documentary, a number of killer whales are caught and brought to different aquatic parks where the viewer gets a behind-the-scenes look at what happens to these animals and their families upon imprisonment. Tilikum is sold to SeaWorld and all of the news reports regarding the death of his previous trainer are altered to reflect an error on the trainer’s part in order to ease the public’s conscience regarding the aggressive behavior of captive killer whales. By the end of the documentary, Tilikum has killed a total of three trainers -- all of which have been reported as tragic accidents. Over ninety separate instances of orca-related...

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