What the Oscar-winning 2009 documentary “The Cove” did for dolphin slaughter in Japan, “Blackfish” may do for killer whales living in captivity while performing at marine parks. Like “The Cove” and Werner Herzog’s “Grizzly Man,” “Blackfish” is as much about human hubris as animal behavior.
Directed by Gabriela Cowperthwaite, “Blackfish,” which opens Friday, explores what might have caused one whale, Tilikum, a 12,000-pound orca, to kill three people, including veteran SeaWorld trainer Dawn Brancheau, in 2010. It was news of Brancheau’s death during a show at SeaWorld in Orlando that sparked Cowperthwaite’s interest. SeaWorld first claimed that the trainer had slipped and fallen; later, the company claimed Tilikum had been spooked by Brancheau’s ponytail.