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|Laufzeit:||Ca. 83 min.|
|FSK:||From 12 years|
When in February 2010 Dawn Brancheau, experienced trainer at SeaWorld, was killed by the Orca bull Tilikum during a show, the whole thing was first dismissed as an unfortunate accident and later by SeaWorld as the trainer's fault. But a look into the past shows that Dawn Brancheau was not the first person to be killed by Tilikum in the course of his captivity. With the help of former SeaWorld trainers, specialists and eyewitnesses of the accident, filmmaker Gabriela Cowperthwaite tries to trace how the deaths occurred, how orcas are handled in the large amusement parks and what effects a life in captivity has on these animals. The result of their research is the film "Blackfish", which has become revealing, shocking and very moving.
The realization that the orcas are much worse off in captivity than in freedom is natural, not necessarily groundbreaking. Also, in some moments the film could be assumed to have a slightly manipulative character. But measured against the subject, Cowperthwaite's staging proves to be very objective. With an almost distanced sobriety, in many scenes she simply lets the images speak - and they truly say more than a thousand words. Probably the most intense moment are recordings from the year 2006, which show how the Orca Kasatka grabs the foot of his trainer Ken Peters and pulls the man under water again and again. Only the fact that Peters was an experienced diver and had built up a deep relationship of trust with Kasatka ultimately kept him calm in this situation and saved his life. But this scene also makes it clear how unpredictable the animals are in captivity.
And when former coaches tell us how little the employees at SeaWorld demand from them in their dealings with animals, it's just as frightening as ignoring injuries inflicted on each other by the whales by the bosses. Despite several requests, SeaWorld has rejected the possibility of commenting on all these accusations and thus giving viewers the opportunity to hear both sides on this subject. This is annoying because "Blackfish" can so easily be dismissed by critics as a pure Anti-SeaWorld campaign. But this is simply not true because of the efforts of the filmmaker alone. For even if it is superficially about SeaWorld and the company's dealings with the orcas, the other animals and also the employees, the film ultimately poses much more fundamental questions, which not only animal protectionists and environmental activists should deal with.
"Blackfish" is a stirring, extremely moving film, which doesn't shed light on all aspects of the subject and in some moments seems to be a little too one-sided. But especially the naïve spectators, who don't care much about the welfare of the animals when visiting amusement parks like SeaWorld or who believe pretty commercials that the animals here would be so incredibly happy, are opened their eyes here in a very intensive way. At the same time, the basis is laid for important discussions, which should not only be conducted according to the reputation of this documentation. Absolutely worth seeing!
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