This fascinating documentary examines the life of performing killer whale Tilikum, who has caused the deaths of several people while in captivity.

Year: 2013
Certificate: 15
Director: Gabriela Cowperthwaite

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If you’ve ever seen a show in a theme park starring some kind of sea-animal then you may just want to watch this eye-opening documentary. I’ve never left Europe and so the only shows of this kind have involved sea lions and, on occasion, dolphins. I’ll admit, they were entertaining but after watching this documentary and going through it’s subsequent guilt-trip, I’m not sure I could watch another show…

Orca’s (aka Killer Whales) are awesome creatures but as their name suggests they are, indeed, killers. This documentary is about that aspect of their natural lifestyle and follows the history of places like Sea World and one Orca in particular named Tilikum.

It’s difficult to write this review without giving away too many spoilers so I’ll try and concentrate on the style and the ‘message’ more than the content and outcome. ‘Blackfish’ uses a mixture of archive footage from various sources as well as face-to-face interviews and is interesting, visually, to watch. It’s a good mixture of general facts about Orca’s alongside interviews. Over the years Tilikum has caused the death of a number of trainers and ‘Blackfish’ aims to explain possible reasons why. In a nutshell, Orca’s usually live in the ocean and oceans are big. Pools at places like Sea World, on the other hand, are not so big and this has a very big effect on the whales and their personality.

The documentary does, at times, feel very one-sided; as though it’s simply a propaganda film to stop these kinds of shows from taking place. However, when Sea World refuse to give any comment about any of the events, it does leave you wondering. The closest we get to any statement from Sea World is from ex-employees – each of which essentially tell the viewer that Sea World knew what was happening but were very good at covering the truth. In particular, you find that ‘facts’ about Orca’s that are often repeated by employees simply aren’t true.

‘Blackfish’ goes into great depth about the history of Tilikum, and other performing Orca’s, right back to their original capture as well as them being used around the world. It’s a fascinating documentary with some great archive footage and first-hand commentary from those who have worked with Tilikum. It will definitely make you think about animals in captivity – I know it’s already affected me.

Have you seen this documentary? Let us know your opinions in the comments below and of course if there are any films on Netflix UK you want us to review let us know!

About MaFt

Film and TV fan, creator of New On Netflix (UK, USA, Australia and Canada), dad of two amazing children, code geek and passionate about autism.

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