Many of us have experienced the excitement and awe of watching 8,000-pound orcas, or “killer whales,” soar out of the water and fly through the air at sea parks, as if in perfect harmony with their trainers. Yet, in our contemporary lore this mighty black-and-white mammal is like a two-faced Janus—beloved as a majestic, friendly giant yet infamous for its capacity to kill viciously. Blackfish unravels the complexities of this dichotomy, employing the story of notorious performing whale Tilikum, who—unlike any orca in the wild—has taken the lives of several people while in captivity. So what exactly went wrong? Director Cowperthwaite stops by to talk about her powerful documentary that challenges us to consider our relationship to nature and reveals how little we humans have learned from these highly intelligent and enormously sentient fellow mammals.
Blackfish, a documentary by Gabriela Cowperthwaite, puts the “killer” back into killer whales by indicting those sea parks that, in her well-chronicled estimation, place profit above safety. Peter Rainer, Christian Science Monitor
Its] argument never fails to be gripping, its structure perfectly executed to maximize its persuasiveness. Tomas Hachard, NPR
Meet a theme-park phenom in the form of the killer whales (orcas in the trade) on view in Gabriela Cowperthwaite’s gripping mindbender of a documentary. Peter Travers, Rolling Stone