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'Blackfish' centers on the dangers of orcas in captivity

Director Gabriela Cowperthwaite claims in her documentary that parks such as SeaWorld are placing profit above safety.

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Tilikum in a scene from 'Blackfish'.

Courtesy of Magnolia Pictures

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You know those cute 8,000-pound orcas you see soaring in twirly tandem in places like SeaWorld? “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. Cowperthwaite was moved to make her film after disbelieving the official statements by SeaWorld officials following the killing of Dawn Brancheau, one of SeaWorld’s best trainers, during a live performance in 2010.

The performing whale, Tilikum, had, as it turns out, already killed two other people while in captivity. (The film claims orcas have never deliberately killed humans in the open sea.) Nobody from SeaWorld agreed to be interviewed on camera, although, more recently, their reps have been issuing angry denials of negligence. One glaring question the film doesn’t raise: Why, given his history, is Tilikum still entertaining in sea parks? Grade: B (Rated PG-13 for mature thematic elements including disturbing and violent images.)

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