Whales on the Big Screen
The Whale Online team has compiled a list of its favourite films and TV series for a home theatre session with whale enthusiasts in mind.
Free Willy (1993)
After vandalizing a theme park, Jesse is ordered to clean up his graffiti. There he meets Willy, a male killer whale, who has been captured for training. After a series of botched shows, Willy is looked after by the owner, who wants to part with him. Released in 1993, this film introduced killer whales to the general public.
Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home (1986)
In the year 2285, a curious extraterrestrial probe emits signals that resemble the songs of humpback whales, a species that has gone extinct. To save the Earth, first one must go back in time and save the whales.
In the Heart of the Sea (2015)
Finding Dory (2016)
Big Miracle (2012)
Big Miracle is based on a true story from Tom Rose’s 1989 book Freeing the Whales that covers Operation Breakthrough: an international effort to save three California grey whales from pack ice in the Beaufort Sea in Alaska in 1988.
The Whale (2011)
The Whale tells a true story of a young killer whale, named Luna, who makes friends with people after getting separated from his family in Nootka Sound, British Columbia. Narrated by: Ryan Reynolds.
And we could add Whales: An Unforgettable Journey, from 1996 and produced for IMAX. And so much more!
The Silent World (1956)
Produced by Jacques-Yves Cousteau and Louis Malle, this documentary is one of the first films to have captured underwater images in colour. When we watch it today, we can see how far we’ve come in the field of marine biology. Available online on YouTube.
Of Whales, the Moon and Men (1962)
The making of the film Of Whales, the Moon and Men (1962) by Pierre Perrault, Michel Brault and Marcel Carrière was designated an “historic event” by the Government of Quebec earlier this month.. Iconic work of direct cinema on a global scale, this film portrays an important chapter of the history of the St. Lawrence, the lives of the inhabitants of Isle aux Coudres and our relationship with a species once referred to as the “white porpoise”, or the St. Lawrence beluga.
Call of the Baby Beluga (2016)
A young beluga is stranded on the shores of the St. Lawrence… and it’s alive! A team of scientists decides to make a rescue attempt… This is how the documentary Call of the Baby Beluga begins, a story that takes you to the belugas in the heart of the St. Lawrence Estuary. The end result of hundreds of hours of shooting with research teams is captivating, and relates the story of this small and threatened population of white whales and the efforts that researchers have been making for decades to protect them.
To view it for free anywhere in Canada: The Nature of Things.
To watch it in the US, tune in to National Geographic’s Mission Critical.
To see it anywhere in the world outside of Canada and the US, visit Nat Geo Wild.
Souls of the Vermilion Sea (2017)
At the beginning of the year, there were 31 vaquitas in Mexico. Just 18 are left today. This documentary chronicles the sad decline of this porpoise, which has fallen victim to the illegal harvesting of totoaba, a species of fish whose bladder is highly sought by the Chinese.
A fox dreams of a whale and decides to go so far as to venture out to sea in search of it. This Canadian short film is one of 10 pictures shortlisted for the Oscars. Not to be missed for the beauty of the images and the sound design. Available on Vimeo.
Humpback Whales (2015)
This IMAX documentary covers the recovery of humpback whales off Hawaii, Alaska and Tonga after being nearly driven to extinction 50 years ago. Narrated by Ewan McGregor, it gets you a glimpse into the world of the ocean giants.
Blue Planet II (2017)
Blue Planet II is a British nature documentary series, narrated by David Attenborough. With music by Hans Zimmer, the series takes you on a journey to the mesmerizing underwater world with state-of-the-art technologies.
Nature’s Great Events (2009)
Nature’s Great Events is a documentary series narrated by David Attenborough that shows the relationship between seasonal changes caused by the sun and their effects on the lives of some of the planet’s most magnificent marine wildlife.