In our human world, intra-species connections have proven to be an inspiring positive. But what becomes of an animal whose natural existence is potentially threatened by well-intended sentiments?
Such a dilemma is posed by directors Suzanne Chisholm and Michael Parfit as they question the destiny of a two-year-old killer whale separated from his family off the coast of British Columbia. In their film The Whale (2011) (also known as Saving Luna), the filmmakers focus on the predicament of Luna, as he turns up alone in a little stretch of coastline called Nootka Sound. It is here where he broke his personal barrier between humans and wild animals and provoked an intense debate that has become a common subject of an increasingly more conscientious world, as it pertains to the welfare of our wild species.
As orcas and people share a common trait – both being highly socialized creatures – it is not surprising that this friendly giant reveals himself soon – as connecting and playful with any attention paid to him from people in the boats he encounters. And while the film skillfully relays what a gift it is to interact with such a beautiful spirit, and many agree it is indeed a delight to have such a unique experience with this communicative and intelligent animal, the situation creates much debate among the Aboriginal community and the Canadian Department of Fisheries and Oceans. The two sides battle each other in what is seen as an ethical conflict – while both are in agreement about concern over Luna’s survival. But what seems like a logical choice becomes tangled with complications. Should Luna stay in Nootka Sound – or should they attempt to reunite him with his family? If the reunion fails, then there may be no other choice but to subject him to living out his life at SeaWorld, which is a tragic scenario for such a vibrant free spirit.
But if Luna stays in Nootka Sound, then ‘experts’ claim that it is in his best interest to curtail any human contact. According to professional opinion, any interaction with humans could endanger the safety of both people and whale. It is a seemingly impossible situation, for he is instinctively social, and it appears that any attempts to restrict his strong need for companionship and sense of family would be in contradiction to an inherently natural inclination. To deprive him of the contact he so obviously craves with others – albeit human – may appear cruel and confusing to him. Everyone in this film has an opinion, while the central issue has to do with the risk involved in either decision and the ultimate question is this: Will their actions help – or hurt this engaging creature who has inspired so much concern among so many?
While it is usual policy for directors not to become emotionally involved with their subject matter, Chisholm and Parfit are unable to maintain a detached vision of objectivity where it regards this particular subject – and it shows. They cannot help but get involved along with others in the fight for Luna’s freedom, and as a result, their lives are transformed – as their viewers’ lives are transformed – by our affections for a whale.
The Whale is a testament to the emotional relationship that is possible between humans and animals. The bond that can develop – a loving friendship with such a seemingly diverse species as one who calls the ocean his home – is far from an insignificant one. This film brings us a magnificent gift from the community of Nootka Sound and a whale they named Luna. It is a lesson about the spirit of an animal that is not unlike our own desire for meaningful connection with others. It is a gift of a lesson of overwhelming consideration – that we of the earth – and those of the oceans – have more in common than we ever imagined.
Memorable Quotes & Moments:
“You are very pretty Luna… ” – and Luna shakes his head
“One night… it was like Luna was dancing in the sky with the stars.”
Get it here: http://www.savingluna.com/
Watch the trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H9Gm0wINeaU