Gabriela Cowperthwaite's documentary asks what led a captive killer whale to turn on its trainers three times.
Making potent use of harrowing archive footage and the penitent testimony of ex-trainers, this biography of 12,000lb bull orca Tilikum exposes the callous cruelty of water parks too commercially driven to accept research into the damage that confinement inflicts. The abuse Tilikum endured at the now-defunct Sealand in Canada is outlined in dismaying detail, along with the deaths he caused there and at SeaWorld Orlando. But this is as much about the human failings that allow such barbarism to continue unchecked. Informative, impassioned and damningly indicting.
Released: 11 November 2013
Despite promising 45 minutes of special features on the DVD case, apart from the trailer there is only an 18-minute on-stage Q&A with Cowperthwaite. The director doubtless would have been better represented by a studio interview, or commentary
Impassioned and disturbing, this doc matches The Cove for marrying cool intellect with real fire.
Reviewed by David Parkinson