News: Alternative:



Notorious killer whale Tilikum is responsible for the deaths of three individuals, including a top killer whale trainer. Blackfish shows the sometimes devastating consequences of keeping such intelligent and sentient creatures in captivity.

Actors: Dave Duffus , Tilikum , James Earl Jones , Dean Gomersall , Mark Simmons , John Hargrove , Samantha Berg , Ken Balcomb , Kim Ashdown
Directors: Gabriela Cowperthwaite
Country: USA
Add a Review

Steve Persall
Tampa Bay Times

Director Gabriela Cowperthwaite creates a fascinating character study of Tilikum, part of a revered species without a single confirmed kill of a human in the wild. Captivity is where Blackfish's evidence continually points the blame for Tilikum's deadly behavior.

David Lewis
San Francisco Chronicle

For the most part, Cowperthwaite keeps the preachiness in check, letting the scientists, former SeaWorld trainers and other witnesses tell it as it is. Indeed, the scary training scenes - uniformly gripping - do most of the talking.

David Edelstein
New York Magazine (Vulture)

It’s true that the number of whales in captivity isn’t huge. But they’ve now become the mightiest symbols of our cultural hubris — of our inability to manage creatures we have the power to capture and imprison. It’s a metaphor for the ages.

Joe Neumaier
New York Daily News

An extraordinary, must-see examination of what humans do to killer whales so that these amazing creatures can become one more entertainment.

Justin Chang

Righteous, captivating and entirely successful as single-issue-focused documentaries go, Gabriela Cowperthwaite’s film draws on startling video footage and testimonies from former orca trainers, building an authoritative argument on behalf of this majestic species.

Eric Kohn

The movie makes a strong case against the captivity of killer whales under sub-circus conditions, but the stance is made even more horrifying because so little has changed in the history of the organization. Blackfish is less balanced investigation than full-on takedown of a broken system.

Andrew O'Hehir

Cowperthwaite builds a portrait of an intelligent but profoundly traumatized animal who was taken from his family in the North Atlantic as an infant, and has been driven to anger, resentment and perhaps psychosis after spending his life in a series of concrete swimming pools.

Jeannette Catsoulis
The New York Times

Unapologetically designed both to inform and affect, Gabriela Cowperthwaite’s delicately lacerating documentary, Blackfish, uses the tragic tale of a single whale and his human victims as the backbone of a hypercritical investigation into the marine-park giant SeaWorld Entertainment.

Alan Scherstuhl
Village Voice

The movie is revealing, wrenching, and important, a reminder that what feels wrong in our gut—the effort to turn free-roaming and unknowable beasts into caged vaudevillians—is always worth investigating.

David Rooney
The Hollywood Reporter

Focusing on the notoriously aggressive orca Tilikum, this gripping film presents a persuasive case against keeping the species – and by extension any wild animal – in captivity for the purposes of human entertainment.

Janice Page
Boston Globe

What’s on camera is both damning and expertly assembled, a filmmaking effort worthy of standing with 2009’s Oscar-winning documentary about dolphin abuse, “The Cove.”

Michael O'Sullivan
Washington Post

It’s upsetting and scary to watch the footage of orca attacks collected in Blackfish, a damning documentary about the treatment of the animals by marine parks.

Tirdad Derakhshani
Philadelphia Inquirer

Very few of us would like to think about the physical and emotional toll that life in captivity takes on these magnificent creatures. Gabriela Cowperthwaite's powerful, heartbreaking, and beautifully crafted documentary, Blackfish, forces us to do just that.

Roger Moore
McClatchy-Tribune News Service

This is as thorough a take-down of a business and its practices as you’re likely to ever see.

Kimber Myers
The Playlist

It succeeds not just because of the gripping footage and troubling stories of the spectators and trainers close to the incidents, but also because it consults experts in the field who offer insights into killer whales’ biology and psychology.

Bill Goodykoontz
Arizona Republic

Blackfish is a disturbing movie, one that will make you rethink parks like SeaWorld and their value.

Jenny McCartney
The Telegraph

As an indictment of the industry, this is strong stuff.

David Parkinson

Impassioned and disturbing, this documentary matches "The Cove" for marrying cool intellect with real fire.

Kevin Harley
Total Film

Like a more obvious underwater twist on Herzog’s "Grizzly Man," Blackfish presents a persuasive, passionate argument: wild nature’s right to freedom demands respect, cock and all.

Joe Morgenstern
Wall Street Journal

More persuasively still, Blackfish — an Indian name for orcas — argues against the very concept of quasiamusement parks like SeaWorld that turn giant creatures meant for the wild into hemmed-in, penned-up entertainers.

Joshua Rothkopf
Time Out New York

Blackfish, a troubling exposé of Sea World’s hazardous entertainment trade, does much to restore a realistic sense of danger, interviewing former park workers who detail their shoddy, nonscientific training, and chronicling the much-suppressed history of whale-on-human violence.

Rene Rodriguez
Miami Herald

Today, 54 percent of Sea World’s whales have Tilikum’s genes, which is a terrifying thought.

Bill Stamets
Chicago Sun-Times

Dispiriting as Blackfish is at times, it offers beautiful advocacy for orca freedom. Anecdotes and data indicate these mammals are highly sensitive and social. Treating them as we do for our entertainment and profit is unconscionable.

Michael Phillips
Chicago Tribune

The film may be depressing. But even with a terrible, watery musical score, it's also good.

Peter Rainer
Christian Science Monitor

One glaring question the film doesn’t raise: Why, given his history, is Tilikum still entertaining in sea parks?

Peter Travers
Rolling Stone

Forget "The Conjuring," Blackfish may be the scariest movie around.

Bill Weber
Slant Magazine

The Frankensteinian rebellion of orcas against their corporate captors turns this doc into a sort of showbiz horror film.

Tomas Hachard

The film, it should be said, does not blame Tilikum for his actions. It posits instead that, like a disenfranchised youth driven to a life of crime, Tilikum is a product of his upbringing.

Tasha Robinson
The Dissolve

Taken as a whole, Blackfish does an admirable job of preaching without force-feeding, seamlessly blending opinion with reportage, and addressing its central issues from enough angles to make a series of end-runs around dubious viewers.

Gary Goldstein
Los Angeles Times

Blackfish, named after the Native American term for orcas, remains decidedly one-sided. But when that "side" is such a vital, convincing proponent for the greater protection and understanding of such evolved and majestic creatures, it can't help but win.

Jordan Hoffman

It’s unlikely anyone who sees Blackfish will be trekking to Shamu Stadium this summer.

Mike D'Angelo
The A.V. Club

Blackfish’s strongest argument against the existence of parks like SeaWorld is how much more gorgeous orcas look in the open ocean than leaping about an oversized swimming pool. And the audience won’t get soaking wet watching them frolic in movies, either.

Geoff Pevere
The Globe and Mail (Toronto)

As more than one orca expert points out in the film, when you take a creature born to roam thousands of miles of open water and stick it in a pool to do tricks, there’s going to be some behavioural blowback. In Tilikum’s case, it’s actually described as a form of induced “psychosis.”

Add Soundtrack

1. Orca In the Wild ( Performer: Jeff Beal Itunes )

2. Blackfish ( Performer: Jeff Beal Itunes )

3. Time To Stop ( Performer: Jeff Beal Itunes )

4. Colina Taken Away ( Performer: Jeff Beal Itunes )

5. Tilikum's Theme ( Performer: Jeff Beal Itunes )

6. Magnificent Creature ( Performer: Jeff Beal Itunes )

7. Sea World Cover Up ( Performer: Jeff Beal Itunes )

8. Alexis Martinez ( Performer: Jeff Beal Itunes )

9. The Whale Hunt ( Performer: Jeff Beal Itunes )

10. Tilikum Kills ( Performer: Jeff Beal Itunes )

11. Trouble At Shamu Stadium ( Performer: Jeff Beal Itunes )

12. Folly ( Performer: Jeff Beal Itunes )

13. Making the Team ( Performer: Jeff Beal Itunes )

14. Floppy Fin ( Performer: Jeff Beal Itunes )

15. Tilikum Family Tree ( Performer: Jeff Beal Itunes )

16. Dawn Brancheau ( Performer: Jeff Beal Itunes )

17. Ken Dragged Below ( Performer: Jeff Beal Itunes )

18. John Sillick ( Performer: Jeff Beal Itunes )

19. More Trainer Accidents ( Performer: Jeff Beal Itunes )

20. Keltie Berne ( Performer: Jeff Beal Itunes )

To Top