Published Dec 04, 2008With an intended message of interspecies harmony and the inherent need for social connection across all walks of life, Saving Luna essentially anthropomorphizes an isolated Orca for the sake of narrative embellishment, obscuring but not ignoring the more prevalent theme of boundless, unflinching human ignorance.
Truly, the most amazing thing about this devastating doc was not that a killer whale willingly socialized with humans but how ridiculously political the issue became and how stupidly and occasionally vulgarly the people that were involved conducted themselves.
The story revolves around Luna, a baby killer whale who separated himself from his family in the San Juan Islands and travelled to Nootka Sound in Canada, where he began to bond and fraternize with anyone who would pay attention to him. While in an ideal environment this sort of thing would not prove problematic but the reality is that human beings are pretty crass and unpredictable, and should an animal learn to trust people, it is only a matter of time before someone exploits that trust or inflicts violence on the innocent.
Therein lies part of the political dilemma presented in Saving Luna. The rest involves First Nations ideals about leaving nature to sort itself out, disgusting fishermen who actually try to kill the whale for damaging their boat and the argument of reuniting the Orca with others of its kind.
From a technical standpoint, the documentary is well shot, extremely well edited and consistent with its coverage. However, directors Chisholm and Parfit make no qualms about becoming involved with the subject and forcing their personal opinion on the narrative. While most will not question this dominant voice, accepting it as the one of reason, refutations of statistical evidence in favour of questionable psychological texts do little to help their argument.
Ideology and journalistic integrity aside, Luna is a powerful little documentary that is very likely to stir reaction in almost all viewers, even if that reaction is completely different from what the filmmakers intended. This alone makes it worth seeing, even if it may lead to several shed tears and idealized rants. (Kinosmith)