U.S.A. • 2009 • COLOUR • DIGITAL • 92 MIN

With its core of human tragedy, its righteous anger and its extraordinary footage revealing previously unseen iniquities, this documentary will leave you better-informed, shaken and angry. Surrounded by looming rocks, The Cove is perfect for the purpose the fishermen of Taiji, Japan, have marked out for it: the clandestine and brutal slaughter of thousands of dolphins each year. It’s certainly a scandal, and filmmaker Louie Psihoyos has one tireless activist to thank for bringing it to international attention, since Richard O’Barry’s careworn features attest to many years of risking his own freedom to fight for the rights of these intelligent seagoing mammals. In an irony of near Shakespearean fecundity, he’s the very same man who captured and trained the original ‘Flipper’ for the 60’s TV show, which launched the lucrative worldwide Dolphinarium circuit that now sustains the annual carnage in Japan. Dodging the local police and planting hidden cameras inside fake rocks generates genuine suspense in the mission to expose Taiji’s bloody secret, but it’s the sadness in Richard O’Barry’s eyes which tells a deeper story of our capacity for cruelty and compassion. — Trevor Johnston.

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