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Movie Review

Pirate for the Sea

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Pirate for the Sea
Nobody wants a stranger in our backyards, telling us how to live our lives. But this time the inconvenient truth is the international large-scale destruction of sea life by the fishing industry, and the stranger is Paul Watson. In his youth a founding member of Canada's Greenpeace, Watson was eventually expelled from Greenpeace for in essence emphasizing the "green" over the "peace." As a result, he founded Sea Shepherd Conservation Society as a more radical force against senselessly wasteful industry practices and repulsively violent sportive practices. Radical indeed. His tactics include ramming fishing vessels, causing escalated violence in the already-bloodied oceans. As he says at the top of the film, "I am a conservationist, and that is my business—getting in trouble. I'm here to say things people do not want to hear and to do things people do not want to see. I'm here to piss people off; that is my job."

Filmmaker Ron Colby reveals the good, the bad, the ugly, and, ultimately, the hugely impressive warrior in Watson. Colby balances sedate interviews with film of bloodily mutilated sharks, sliced nearly in half, trying to swim away from the boats after their fins were hacked off for sale to Asia as a "delicacy." To appeal to the intellect, Colby weaves in old clips of the kinds of arguments Watson hears from his adversaries. "What gives you the right?" sputters an angry fisherman. Watson replies calmly and efficiently, "The United Nations Charter for Nature," signed by most of the countries farming the oceans.

Colby structures the film like a good Hollywood blockbuster, building to chase scenes of heart-stopping intensity. But the realities are here for all to see, too—including bleeding, pleading, battered seals being dragged across the ice and away from their fully observant families. As the various nations argue for their causes—the Japanese for "research," the Chinese for "health," the Costa Ricans for "feeding the starving"—Watson points to the bigger picture of oceans on the verge of complete ecosystem collapse that could mark an end to everyone's agendas.

"Pirate for the Sea" is a forceful documentary. It's a shame Watson doesn't have Al Gore's name-recognition. Perhaps this film will start him on his way.


Genre: Documentary
Filmmaker: Ron Colby

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