Directed: Gabriela Cowperthwaite
Starring: Tilikum, Dave Duffus, Samantha Berge and Dawn Brancheau (archive)
Blackfish, directed by Gabriela Cowperthwaite, is a fascinating, terrifying and deeply intriguing insight into the world of "so-called" entertainment, focusing on the ambitious extent that authorities of Seaworld will go through in order to keep it a money spinning attraction. Tilikum is an Orcha Whale raised, like many, in the surroundings of a concrete swimming pool in Florida's renowned tourist attraction Seaworld; a place that fails to advertise the true nature of the Orcha Whale. While friendly, they are considered extremely dangerous, pointing to the obvious nature of the mammal and its survival instinct, oh, an the title "Killer Whale" stands out also.
The story here is a biased outlook on animal exploitation and begins with footage of Dawn Brancheau; Tilikum's most recent victim and ironically, Seaworld's oldest and much experienced trainer. Her death was tragic but not surprising.
The death of Dawn Brancheau is a clear motive behind Gabriela's Blackfish in which is pieced from the origin of whale hunting, to Seaworld's neighbour "Sealand" while its main focus is on the peculiar and incidentally tragic happenings in both Florida and Spain. Blackfish is not out to please the average Seaworld fan, rather an attempt at opening their eyes.
The story of the whale is heartfelt and deeply emotional. Blackfish does well in captivating the emotions from former Seaworld instructors, the audience, the attraction and of course, the Whale - in which Tilikum is hailed both hero and villain.
Blackfish fails to ask "you" the question and rather runs on archive footage, newspaper headlines and tries dividing fact from fiction with Seaworld being widely criticised from the beginning. Blackfish brings a lot of experts to the table, eyewitnesses and solid footage of incidents that are guaranteed to leave you shook. The only specimen it does fail to provide is a perspective from Seaworld representatives and for obvious reasons. So while it falls flat in that area, Gabriela's fascinating insight into the exploitation of Orcha whales is surprising, heartfelt and thoroughly frightening.