By Corey Birkhofer
The Cove, USA, 2009
Directed by Louie Psihoyos
Documentary: one could argue it has become the most accepted form of news gathering and truth. Though documentary filmmaking built its momentum slowly through the ’60s and ’70s, now, as we head into the second decade of the 2000s, it has become more than just another genre, but rather a mainstay and mainstream form of expressing non-fiction topics to an audience that no longer trusts the information dished out by the major media networks.
For me personally, documentary has the power to tell the truth, and this is a power that should be respected and not abused. So what happens when you take activist groups like Sea Shepherd and put the camera in their hands to go to a small coastal village in Japan and tell the story of dolphins being annually massacred? I would say you have set the stage to share an unknown and dirty truth to the rest of the world, and as such, the film you make should be held to the highest degree of integrity, dignity and, above all else, truth.
Perhaps the makers of The Cove did intend to maintain the above standards when setting out to shoot their film, but ultimately what ended up coming out at the end of their journey, to me, was a film that basically glorified the guerrilla filmmaking techniques they used to get footage of what goes on in Taiji, Japan.
I’d like to share a link to a YouTube video for you to watch that I think sums up exactly how I feel about The Cove better than my own words can convey, so please take a few minutes to watch this:
Thank you for taking the time to watch that clip. I think he sums it up really well: if you’re going to make a film to try to appeal to the Japanese, don’t go sneaking around and glorifying how cool you are for breaking the law to obtain your “off-limits” footage. Make your film in Japanese, not in English, and focus on the dolphins being killed instead. Also, another point worth mentioning, the Japanese are very law-abiding people, and so they have no respect for people who are rude, sneaky and break the law. This is exactly how the filmmakers of The Cove are in the film, getting their rocks off running around in a country in which they are guests. So, to coincide with what the video blogger in the above clip mentions, The Cove was made to be popular with Western audiences and make money in Western countries, and ultimately shows that the filmmakers were more interested in making money and having their film accepted by the West than anything else.
In closing, if the goal of this film really was to make the Japanese people aware of the dolphin killing in Taiji, then the filmmakers’ approach would have been completely different. Instead, this film is just a narcissistic glorification of how cool the filmmakers think they are for getting this forbidden footage of dolphins being killed in Taiji.
Contact the Author: CoreyBirkhofer@MoviesIDidntGet.com