Eco-Pirate: The Story of Paul Watson Trish Dolman

Eco-Pirate: The Story of Paul Watson Trish Dolman
For anyone unfamiliar, Paul Watson has been a strong Canadian voice in the world of environmental activism for the last 40 years, being one of the founding members of Greenpeace until getting ousted (according to him, he left on his own terms) for having differing views on the topic of non-violence. He then developed the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society, which is an exaggerated direct action group that, amongst other things, deals with the slaughtering of whales by actively going out and smashing Japanese whaling vessels. Considering that said vessels use legal loopholes to kill endangered species for rich elitist tools to dine on in high-end restaurants with small portions and weird sauces, it's an admirable, but imperfect, mission that works mainly in its own context when not measured against the potential of other, unrelated anarchic acts. Dolman's documentary follows Watson and his plucky gang of undergraduate idealists on his quest to enforce his ideology, jumping back and forth between interview subjects that contextualize his mercurial disposition and historical battles with various hunters and political groups. While there's an obvious humanist vein of anthropomorphizing whales for the purpose of swaying emotional investment with endless discussions about their intelligence and pothead observations about human-animal understanding and eyes with deep souls, Dolman is careful to dissect her subject without bias, allowing his ex-wife to talk candidly about his motivations and tendency towards self-aggrandizing. There's even the observation that his groupies tend to be younger, privileged kids quick to hop on bandwagons. But what's missing, beyond a sense of cohesion, is the philosophical ethos of Watson's mission, which, on its own terms, is relatable, but what would happen if everyone just decided that their particular worldview was "right" and decided to attack and enforce it on other folks that similarly perceived their solipsism as "right"? It'd be messy. A variety of deleted scenes come with the DVD, which really don't add a great deal to a documentary that successfully communicates its point as is. (eOne)