Opening in New York on September 23rd and in Los Angeles on September 30th, The Whale is a touching documentary that should have no problem finding a wider audience with is profoundly moving story and beautiful visuals courtesy of husband-and-wife directors and cinematographers Suzanne Chisholm and Michael Parfit. It doesn't hurt, of course, to have A-list celebs Ryan Reynolds and Scarlett Johannson (presumably when they were still together) as your executive producers, however, that should only cement what is already a top notch documentary.
The Whale follows the life of Luna, a baby Orca who gets separated from his family and begins to, at least it seems, seek human connections along a fjord called Nootka Sound along the coast of Canada's Vancouver Island. Anyone who has ever contemplated the emotional lives of animals would do well to capture this absolutely captivating film, which somehow manages to be one of the most affirming films about friendship, in this case between animal and human, in quite some time.
There are moments in The Whale when you will laugh. There are moments in The Whale when you will cry. There are moments in The Whale when you will find yourself angry, disgusted, inspired and awed. In short, The Whale is not only an informative documentary but one that may very well change the way you feel about your relationships, both human and animal.
For over four years, Luna remained a part of the Nootka Sound community. From very early on in the film, Luna's intelligence and personality are on full display and, if you've ever doubted a whale's intelligence, you need only see this film to be completely amazed by Luna's practically undeniable intentionality, heart, social intelligence and, I'd dare say, even sense of humor.
The film is narrated by Ryan Reynolds, who lends the whole production a tremendous sensitivity as you can clearly here in his voice his own passion for the project. Reynolds' narration is energetic, inspired and rich with feeling.
Originally sent to the area on a Smithsonian assignment, Chisholm and Parfit quickly become enamored with Luna and, before long, have become characters in what will be their own film. While some may argue that the line between filmmaker and subject has been blurred, in this case it adds a depth of humanity that only makes the film that much richer.
There are controversies, of course, such as when local authorities try to capture Luna in order to transport him to a marine exhibit 200 miles away. A local Native American tribe, however, won't have it and becomes a go-between for young Luna, who had by that time become a sacred presence for the tribe. There was also the effort, poorly implemented, to get locals and tourists to become less interactive with Luna due to the belief that such interactions were harmful to his chances of eventual integration back into the wild.
Again, all efforts to stop Luna from interacting with the people he so clearly craved were complete failures.
There's no doubt, and it's acknowledged in the film, that such close encounters with a killer whale possess great danger even if Luna would mean no harm. However, Parfit and Chisholm have beautifully and unforgettably brought to life just how wondrous and awesome the relationship between man and animal can be when we choose to peacefully and playfully co-exist with one another.
The Whale is just beginning its limited nationwide run on Paladin Films and will no doubt please audiences from coast-to-coast. If you get a chance, check it out on the big screen where the true power of the incredible story can be most fully realized.