The movie Blackfish explores the impact of captivity on intelligent animals. Directed by Gabriela Cowperthwaite, it tells the story of a killer whale, Tilikum, in captivity and how the cruelty and hardship in his life lead him to kill several trainers, and yet the company still doesn’t release him as he is worth too much money.
Tilikum was a young killer whale, who was separated from his family during childhood and brought to a sea creature performance show, Sealand. However, he was attacked by the other killer whales and his owners often withdrew food. These harsh conditions throughout his life led him to eventually kill a person during a performance at Seaworld, which is a key issue discussed in the movie.
The movie goes on showing numerous events in which killer whales, in particular, Tilikum, injured or killed their trainers due to the harsh conditions they are forced to live in, and the traumatic events they experience from an early age. Seaworld, the company which bought Tilikum is forced to go to court several times to justify their continued possession of Tilikum despite attacks, and refuse to relinquish their hold on him because of how much money he is worth to them.
One of the things in the movie that shocked viewers was the vivid depiction of Tilikum’s abuse. The movie showed the killer whale covered in scratches and bites from the abuse he received from the other whales. This really made me feel disappointed in our society, one that will let animals suffer unceasingly just for entertainment.
This movie made viewers question the ethics of captive animals. But Blackfish also showed the great power and beauty that these killer whales have within them. Most viewers enjoyed this movie as it made them question the “dark side of humanity” and taught them something interesting, but I left the scene feeling sad about how money is valued above all else, even the health and security of other creatures on this planet.
Overall this was a powerful thought-provoking movie that made students question the ethics of the captivity of animals for human entertainment, as well as the consequences of human actions. Only time will tell if it will truly change our behavior.
Edited by Rohan Menezes