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Case Number 17073: Small Claims Court

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A Life Among Whales

IndiePix // 2005 // 57 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge Franck Tabouring (Retired) // August 20th, 2009

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All Rise...

Judge Franck Tabouring is going for a swim with a whale. His plastic whale, that is.

The Charge

Dive into the world of some of the planet's most intriguing creatures.

The Case

I have never taken a real dive in my life, and I have never seen a whale up close, but something about these gigantic marine mammals just fascinates me, and the thought of thousands of them falling victim to the cruelty of whaling each year fills me with a feeling of sadness. Not all hope is lost, however, as many people and organizations make it their mission to fight for the sake of whales and put an end to the senseless exploitation of these majestic creatures.

Someone who's spent several decades trying to save whales is famous U.S. biologist and activist Roger Payne, and in Bill Haney's interesting documentary A Life Among Whales, he offers viewers a short but enlightening look at what makes these mammals so special, and why it's in our best interest to peacefully coexist with some of Earth's largest animals.

Even though the film only runs for a short 55 minutes, Payne touches on quite a few subjects, including the history of whaling, the purpose of his own research, his discovery of whale "singing," and the creation of the International Whaling Commission and its failure to stop the killing of whales all together. Covering this much in less than an hour is ambitious, but director Haney successfully created a concise documentary valuable to anyone still clueless about whaling and its devastating consequences. On the other hand, viewers already familiar with these issues may not learn anything new here.

Haney also occasionally has children step in front of the camera and spill random whale trivia. While it makes the film more accessible to younger viewers and families in general, it does tone down the movie's more serious parts. It's not a major problem, but it didn't catch my attention as much as Payne's own interviews or the bloody footage of whale killings.

Although limited, the film does include a series of beautiful, compelling underwater shots of all kinds of whales. Luckily enough, the disc's 1.78:1 video transfer looks solid, and most of these breathtaking images look sharp and clean. The audio transfer does a decent job as well.

The special features on the disc include an informative 24-minute interview with Haney and Payne, who introduce and discuss the movie's main themes and answer several interesting questions about the history of whaling and how it has changed during the past decades. Also included is a brief look at Payne's Ocean Alliance organization, a short video about how lethal select sounds can be to whales, and a 13-minute campaign video for the International Fund for Animal Welfare.

For viewers who have read or heard about whaling and would like to learn more about the process and whales in general, A Life Among Whales is an enlightening documentary stuffed with interesting facts and compelling interviews. It may not be as complete a film about the subject as others, but it's nonetheless a well-structured, well-executed little film that raises awareness and may get more people interested in battling the cruelty of whaling.

The Verdict

Not guilty.

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Scales of Justice

Judgment: 83

Perp Profile

Studio: IndiePix
Video Formats:
• 1.78:1 Anamorphic
Audio Formats:
• Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (English)
• None
Running Time: 57 Minutes
Release Year: 2005
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
• Documentary

Distinguishing Marks

• Featurettes
• Interview
• Trailer


• None

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