His sobbing was only disturbed by his deep intakes of air as sadness dripped off of him. I felt helpless as I stood nearby. Quietly entering into my field of vision was his pet dog, slowly walking towards him sprawled across the bed. The dog stopped to look at me, as if to tell me he would take care of it, before jumping up onto the bed. Carefully stepping across the thickly quilted bedspread, the pet came up to my friend and settled alongside him. Then the most startling thing happened next. The dog stretched his front right paw out onto my friend’s shoulder. It looked like the dog was comforting him, staying right by his side; I began to tear up. I was witnessing this dog’s empathy towards his master. One could see how easy it would be to place human emotions on animals. Unfortunately this documentary showed what the consequences could be by doing such a thing. After seeing the film The Cove which was about the capturing of dolphins, my feelings toward animal attractions changed. Seeing animals doing tricks for human entertainment now upsets me. I am not referring to one’s pet but to big corporations that take intelligent creatures and exploit them for profit. February 24, 2010 was when the news broke that senior trainer Dawn Brancheau was killed by an orca killer whale at SeaWorld of Orlando, Florida. The whale was named Tilikum and he was the main focus of this upsetting movie. As a reviewer it was hard for me to write this piece. I wanted to do two; one review based on the emotional reactions to the film and the other towards the technical aspects used in making it. The way the director interviewed former trainers while old film clips were used to show their performances in front of thousands of spectators made for some powerful movie moments. It was heartbreaking to have fishermen explain the footage that showed baby whales being captured in the open seas, only to be subjected to cruel training methods. This Sundance Film Festival nominated film had its moments where I felt I was sitting in a classroom lecture; however, the scenes and the emotions came across as real for me. Before you decide to book you vacation to an amusement park with animal attractions, I suggest you watch this movie. It has changed me forever.
3 1/2 stars