Footage of a meeting of Congress is shown, transitioning to a harrowing wide shot of a dead whale carcass floating in the midst of the ocean waves. Then we are back in the Congress meeting, where a closeup is shown of Scott Kraus, the chief scientist of the New England Aquarium. With grave seriousness in his gaze, he explains that right whale stock is declining rapidly — that there are, in fact, only around 400 members of the population left. Another transition to a second whale carcass is shown, this time trailing a length of fishing line from its tail fin. A voiceover from Rep. Jared Huffman explains that there are, in fact, fewer right whales in current existence than there are members of the United States Congress.
Such harrowing figures serve to form the backbone of Entangled, which deeply involves us in the ongoing struggle to conserve the struggling population of the North Atlantic right whale. Intercutting footage of both live and dead whales that are being studied with anecdotes and voiceovers from right whale experts, the film helps to convey that scientists are frantic to reverse the decline of the population before it becomes far too late to do so. One such moment involves a haunting shot of the carcass of a dead whale being dragged onto a beach for further study, as voiceover from Huffman informs the viewer that between 2017 and 2018, twenty right whales were found dead — a number that equates to roughly 5% of their total population.
We then learn from the film’s narrative that entanglement in fishing lines is the leading human cause of whale injury and death, and the film makes this startlingly clear. Sarah Sharp, the veterinarian for the International Fund for Animal Welfare, speaks on the issue as animation plays of a whale being entangled in fishing lines, looking morose and vulnerable even in cartoon form as it thrashes around entangled, which in some cases leads to them not being able to resurface for a breath. Footage of entangled whales, as well as pictures of their carcasses with evidence of entanglement injuries, are shown as Sarah explains that the fishing line essentially acts like a slow guillotine. As she continues detailing her explanations, we see a closeup of Sarah explaining that she is worried about extinction of the right whales. At one point she ducks her head, visibly fighting back tears.
ENTANGLED Looks at Both Sides of the Entanglement Issue
As closeup footage is shown of a man driving his fishing boat through the ocean waves, voiceover explains that his name is Rob Martin, and that commercial fishing runs in his family history. Text over the footage then goes on to explain that in 2015, Cape Cod Bay was closed for three months to lobster fishermen in an attempt to cut down on entanglement of marine life. This closure meant three months of not being paid for his work, and difficulty making tuition and mortgage payments.
Footage of protests and news coverage is later shown as lobster fishermen across Cape Cod and beyond protest against the harsh regulations that have been put in place to impact their way of life, citing the economic impact that closures may have, among other ripple effects.
In this writer’s opinion, this juxtaposition between both viewpoints of the conservation issue is at its core what enables Entangled to amplify its theme of conservation and awareness, citing not only the effects that fishing line entanglement and other human causes can have upon right whales but also showing the human side of the conflict.
Any viewer interested in a multi-faceted glimpse at a growing conservation issue, as well as measures that can be put into place to prevent the extinction of critically endangered species, will get mileage out of Entangled. Be warned that while the scenes are brief, there is discussion and imagery of animal death, as well as detailed description of the physical effects that entanglement may have upon right whales, which may affect viewers sensitive to such subjects.
Run time: 1 h 15 minutes
Cast and Crew:
Produced and written by David Abel and Andy Laub
To watch the film, visit the OVID.tv page for ENTANGLED
Images courtesy of OVID.tv
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About the Author: Aliza Brylinsky
Aliza Brylinsky is an aspiring writer based in Ithaca, New York. Originally from a small town in Pennsylvania, Aliza spent much of her life surrounded by pieces of literature, which fostered a deep love for the written word and the effect that it can have on a wider audience. Often writing short fantasy stories for fun and imagining the intricate plotlines that the characters would be involved in as a child, this eventually led her to pursue a path to writing professionally. When not focusing on both creative and professional writing, Aliza can be found enjoying the bounties of nature around her home, reading works of fantasy and sci-fi, and smothering her various pets with all the love she can give them. She has a deep interest in the history and culture of any area she happens to find herself in.