Thursday, January 23, 2014

I "Loved It" Blackfish and Dear Zachary

 There is really nothing like a great documentary. Pulling one off is really quite an accomplishment. A documentary has a lot of things going for it, and essentially relies 50% on the story and 50% on the delivery. You could have the most amazing story in the world, but when all you have are talking heads about the story that don't give the story anything extra (they give it no heart, they make those involved no more real than the characters in a story that they are to everyone else except those who knew them). It is the responsibility of the those behind the documentary to move the story and the documentary in such a way that the people talking and what they are talking about comes to life in a way that the story becomes personal to us all, no just those who were affected and are now talking to us about it.

The documentary is a story, but not one we want read to us, one we want told to us, and Blackfish is a story that is told to us, and it is amazing.

The fact that the documentary is also part of a legal drama and is still entertaining is proof that it is well done. The pacing for the events that the documentary chronicles is perfect. I went in thinking that it was going to go over the whale at Sea World, what I got was a slow build, showing the creation of the personality of the whale that was the main focus of the movie.

I think that also plays a large part of how the documentary is going to go. It adds something, a punch if you will, when you’re seeing real people talk about a real event, and then something unexpected happens. It’s like a movie, but it’s not a movie, it’s real life, stuff like this happens in the real world.

Like Dear Zachary, which is the greatest documentary I have ever seen. That film packed a punch the likes of which my wife and I had never experienced. I will never forget telling her about the movie and sitting down and watching it expecting an interesting story of the friend of a murdered man fighting for the arrest and prosecution of the murderer. The documentary was presented like a movie, although it was all just real people talking, and old videos and pictures, and nothing more. The story was amazing but the way it was put together was what really made it such an experience. I told my wife at the end that it was a great film but boy they sure did “make” you cry, and by that I mean they used quick flashes, flashbacks, and sound editing to really punch the events into you so that it was heartbreaking.
            Dear Zachary had two moments where my wife and I made sounds of surprise, and I always take that to mean that we are really into the movie, it’s got us and it just gave us a jerk to make sure we were still awake.
            My wife asked about Blackfish and I compared it to Dear Zachary. This movie has the power of Dear Zachary, not nearly the punch because of the different stories, but the power is still there.

            I will say, since it kind of pertains to Blackfish by way of it involves animals of the ocean, that I hated The Cove. I did not understand why that movie was getting such a highlight. I get that it was an important story that needed to be told, but still, the story of dolphins being hunted and killed has been around since I was in high school. Being told that it was still going on was not a surprise nor really anything I cared about. It’s not good, and whoever does it should stop, but seriously, The Cove is not a movie one should look to for help in this area. The documentary is poorly done and completely destroys the importance of the story by making it SO important.

            The Cove is not streaming – so who cares.

            Blackfish did more to highlight the cruelty to the animals in its film than The Cove did in its’. The Cove was too interested in showing what the people went through and how dangerous it was and how daring they were. So what? Is this supposed to be about you or the animals? Blackfish does not make the mistake in thinking the viewers are there for the story of how they made the documentary, but instead they are there for the story.
            And what a story; it is truly a psychological tale of an animal’s descent from a creature that is free in the ocean to one trapped in a pool. Like all great villains, it is heartbreaking to see the whale transform into what he is forced into becoming – basically a pet – except that this pet slowly begins to understand that he is much bigger than his owners.

            Like any wild animal, be it a dog or a cat, no matter how broken or disciplined or trained they are, they are still animals, and they can all still bite back. Like people, it just depends on who it is; some can take things that would make others feel angry, or trapped, and when others feel trapped they get depressed, while others may fight back.

            It is haunting to see the clips of the accidents, and the one event that it retold simply through the two girls who witnessed it is one of the worst. What I found really disturbing are the close-calls, all the times that the trainers fell in the water or almost fell in the water and the whale was there, ready and waiting and trying, but when nothing happens it just waits for the next time.

            Blackfish also touches on the trainers themselves and their trust in the people they were working for, and now looking back on events, you can see the guilt that they live with because of that trust and how close they all came to being a victim being talked about in the documentary instead of a witness.

            Blackfish is a testament of the evils of man against animals as well as the evils of man against themselves. The lies that are told to cover up mistakes for the sake of the almighty dollar are nothing compared to the lies that are told that disparage the dead, using them as a way out is something only a disturbed person would think of and then do, but then again, what do you expect from the same people who treat animals in such a deplorable way and then put those animals in with other people.

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