At the Edge of the World – Analog Mutant Movie Review

Sea Shepherd Conservation Society

At the Edge of the World is a documentary about an international team of activists who assembled under the name of Sea Shepherd Conservation Society, putting their lives on the line and taking direct action against the illegal whale hunting expeditions from Japan. The documentary captures the third seasonal expedition into hostile environmental conditions in an effort to intercept an overwhelming enemy committing crimes against nature in the name of profits.

The activists (technically “pirates”, eligible for capture by any and all “lawful” nations) spend months tracking the Japanese fleet funded entirely by generous donations from the international community. Despite the financial support they receive, a laundry list of issues stack the odds against the Sea Shepard team. A lack of extensive training and/or experience in vital skills. Navigation & communication equipment that is inferior to what their opponents are using. The lack of crucial equipment needed for their work. Neither of the two ships that the Sea Shepard Conservation Society has are capable of competing on even grounds with the Japanese whaling fleet. There is no logistical or legal support support from any country to hold the Japanese accountable for their crimes.

Where the crew lacks in readily available resources, they improvise. They actually fabricated helicopter landing decks on both of their ships. This allowed for flexibility in their surveillance & support tactics. Homemade stink-bombs made from butyl acid and orange smoke signals create havoc on deck for the Japanese crews. Utilizing fast and agile “Zodiac” speedboats (like Navy Seals use), the activist can drop “prop-fouler” rope traps directly in front of moving ships, greatly diminishing any odds that the giant ships have of avoiding the traps. The mere sight of the sinister looking, hydraulic “can opener” mounted on the starboard side of the Farley Mowat should inspire that “I just shit my pants” feeling in even the most hardened crew member of the illegal whaling expeditions.

the Farley Mowat

This documentary should serve to inspire anyone interested in stopping the illegal slaughter of thousands of protect whales every year. But it also should be considered a good study in tactics that aspiring activists everywhere can embrace. The readiness to quickly improvise in reaction to the situation as it develops. The willingness to  think outside the box and invent ways to disable or disrupt the operation of the Japanese ships. The way that the teams embraces their “weakness” (smallness, agility, speed) against the “strong” fleet can translate to actions in your own city. The documentation of their tactics and the conflicts they engage in makes for compelling drama that will inevitably sway public opinion in their favor. Their are many lessons here to be learned for the aspiring revolutionary in each one of us.

At the Edge of the World is available on dvd at the Grand Rapids Public Library


About analogmutant

art, music, food, movies, citizen journalism, activism, and whatever else i am into at the moment...
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