Directed by Gabriela Cowperthwaite
Notorious killer whale Tilikum is responsible for the deaths of three individuals, including a top killer whale trainer. Blackfish shows the sometimes devastating consequences of keeping such intelligent and sentient creatures in captivity.
See more films
★★★★ review by jose on Letterboxd
one day, I’ll free every animal in seaworld.
★★★★★ review by Hollie Horror on Letterboxd
I wish I could swim, just so I could jump into the ocean and hang out with a pod of killer whales and by hang out, I want to give them big giant hugs and squeeze their eyeballs out!
It's sort of interesting that some people are "complaining" about Blackfish centering around SeaWorld or Tilikum when that is obviously what the filmmakers set out to make a documentary about, and if it seems one-sided, well, that's because SeaWorld refused to be interviewed for the documentary...it is not as if they are setting out to manipulate the audience and if you feel manipulated by this documentary then maybe you can work your way into the staff at your nearest SeaWorld affiliate! I also hope you end up getting your balls chomped off by an orca who has been held in captivity for 25 years with a limp dorsal fin.
Everyone seems to demand more and more from a documentary but if you're really this thirsty for knowledge, maybe you should be reading a fucking book instead? A documentary includes facts and this documentary includes facts and tells an actual story in a non-fictitious way, I am somewhat baffled by the complaints.
Blackfish is a great documentary from the filmmakers perspective and respect for the quality of life of these beautiful creatures who are hoarded by a handful of money hungry executives at SeaWorld, the documentary is wonderfully pieced together and emotionally explored, kudos to you Gabriela Cowperthwaite. I would never fault someone for putting a little heart and passion into their work.
★★★½ review by Adam Cook on Letterboxd
Blackfish, Gabriela Cowperthwaite’s documentary about Tilikum, a captive orca whale who killed three of its trainers, is a shocking and sad film revealing systematic animal cruelty and the greed of a multi-billion dollar industry. Employing traditional talking head sequences with experts and former SeaWorld trainers the film documents Tilikum’s sad life within his watery jail cell and the tragic events that have surrounded him and a whole host of other whales in captivity.
The film’s opening half follows Tilikum’s captive life from being taken from his parents through to the shows and routines it performed daily with his trainers. The film uses extensive footage of shows and training exercises, including those involving instances where the whales became dangerous. Thankfully it shies away from showing footage of Tilikum’s three separate killings but the video evidence remains incredibly distressing.
Yet Tilikum is not the monster here but merely another victim. His maltreatment (he is kept in a small holding pen and separated from the other orcas) and frustrations are clear and despite his involvement in the avoidable deaths of three trainers he remains at SeaWorld as he is still such a valuable commodity. It is during this second half that Cowperthwaite changes tack as the film morphs into a conspiracy thriller as SeaWorld coverup incidents to protect the bottom line rather than worry about the safety of its and workers and animals.
Despite the sensationalist nature of the story director, Cowperthwaite, treats the subject matter with respect smartly blending an array of archival footage with equally shocking revelations from former SeaWorld employees. Whilst Blackfish could be criticised for its bias - all SeaWorld representatives declined to participate - it is clear something is very wrong in the treatment of the animals and the safety of those that interact with them.
Blackfish is a moving and depressing documentary that shockingly reveals the darker side of animal captivity.
★★★★½ review by Tarrant on Letterboxd
★★★½ review by Gonzo on Letterboxd
The Good: Two things confirmed by watching Blackfish: SeaWorld is indeed evil and killer whales could kill. One thing learned from watching Blackfish: SeaWorld trainers give the whales handjobs. What. In. The. Fuck.
The Bad: Some might find the video footage quite upsetting. The editing could've been a bit better. It didn't flow as smoothly as I'd hoped.
The Bottom Line: I've never liked SeaWorld, even as a kid. I've always felt there was something off about that place and this film further corroborates what I've thought. What Gabriela Cowperthwaite reveals is just downright despicable and heartbreaking. It's all about the money. Sad but true. Blackfish is a gripping and enlightening documentary well worth a watch.
- See all reviews