- The Washington Times - Friday, August 7, 2009

“The Cove,” an advocacy film aimed at ending the dolphin slaughters in Taiji, Japan, will probably only attract dolphin lovers to movie theaters, yet it culminates, perversely enough, in the brutal killing of hundreds, if not thousands, of Flipper look-alikes.

If one woman at the preview screening I attended is any indication, dolphinphiles are in for a rough time: At one point, she broke into tears, and after the waterworks dried up, she repeated, “That is disgusting, that is disgusting” over and over again, as if that mantra would cause the killings to stop or protect her eyes from the images.

“The Cove” has a problem. It’s a two-pronged issue movie — director Louie Psihoyos helps environmentalist Richard O’Barry document both Taiji’s dolphin killings and the fact that dolphin meat is incredibly high in mercury, the toxic metal. But in order to win sympathy from Western audiences, it places its emphasis on the wrong issue.

Mr. Psihoyos and Mr. O’Barry want to convince us that dolphins are sentient beings whose suffering at the hands of men should be considered criminal. They bombard us with fuzzy ideas about the intelligence and beauty of these creatures while simultaneously turning their Japanese oppressors into vicious caricatures straight out of an anti-Axis World War II propaganda film.

Despite their special pleading, it’s unclear why these (admittedly beautiful and interesting) creatures should be treated any differently from cows. If anything, the dolphins live the lives crunchy organic types dream of for American cattle — they live free-range existences in their natural habitat feasting on their food of choice until the day of their death.

What the pair of environmentalists should have allocated more of their screen time to is the degradation of the dolphin stock due to mercury poisoning and the danger that poses to the Japanese people. Though they touch on the issue of mercury-poisoned youth, they obviously have more affection for the dolphins murdered than the youths crippled by the poisoning of the seas.

★★

TITLE: “The Cove”

RATING: PG-13 (disturbing content)

CREDITS: Directed by Louie Psihoyos

RUNNING TIME: 92 minutes

WEB SITE: http://www.thecovemovie.com/

MAXIMUM RATING: FOUR STARS

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