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The Day of the Dolphin

Day of the Dolphin, The (1973) Movie Poster
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  •  USA  •    •  104m  •    •  Directed by: Mike Nichols.  •  Starring: George C. Scott, Trish Van Devere, Paul Sorvino, John Dehner, Severn Darden, Elizabeth Wilson, William Roerick, Phyllis Elizabeth Davis, Pat Zurica, Jon Korkes, Edward Herrmann, Leslie Charleson, Victoria Racimo.  •  Music by: Georges Delerue.
       Dr Jake Terrell, who has been training a pair of dolphins for many years, has had a breakthrough. He has taught his dolphins to speak and understand English, although they do have a limited vocabulary. When the dolphins are stolen, he discovers they're to be used in an assassination attempt. Now he is in a race to discover who is the target, and where the dolphins are, before the attempt is carried out.

Review:

Image from: Day of the Dolphin, The (1973)
Image from: Day of the Dolphin, The (1973)
Image from: Day of the Dolphin, The (1973)
Image from: Day of the Dolphin, The (1973)
Image from: Day of the Dolphin, The (1973)
Image from: Day of the Dolphin, The (1973)
Image from: Day of the Dolphin, The (1973)
Image from: Day of the Dolphin, The (1973)
Image from: Day of the Dolphin, The (1973)
Jake Terrell, his wife Maggie and a crew of ecologists for the last few years have been financed by an organization to study confined dolphins on a distant Florida island. They've conditioned a male and a female dolphin to say "fa," "ma," "pa" and other basic vocabulary, and to comprehend English sufficiently enough to have simple dialogue. But Alpha can't be trained to think in English. He can merely mimic, until Jake teaches him a lesson about loss. He introduces a female dolphin, Beta, watches Alpha fall for her, then splits them up until Alpha can demand her, in English. The wholesale sequence showing Alpha swimming frantically around, thrashing his tail on the enclosure that divides them, is heartrending.

Jake is like the classic father of the baby-boom bracket, unwavering in teaching valuable lessons even when he feels his child's anguish, in this case a dolphin who loves him like a father. When Alpha at last begs for Beta by name, it's an intensely gratifying moment, exemplifying the identity-related idea of language as a conciliation intuited out of loss. And, much to our grief, Alpha is now disposed to all kinds of anthropomorphic cognizant suffering.

And naturally, trouble lies ahead in the form of a thriller plot true to the pinnacle era of conspiracies and rogue government. Initially, a young Paul Sorvino's slippery pollster blackmails his way onto Dr. Terrell's island, and before long, a sinister regime faction is revealed to intend to use the newfound capacity for communication in these dolphins to their advantage by abducting them for function in a presidential assassination, of all things.

In training Alpha and Beta to verbalize, Jake destines them for humanity, initiating them into ceaseless yearning and unlocking the floodgates to advantage being taken of them. In due course, with the purpose of thwarting Alpha and Beta more exploitation, Jake must make a decision that is inconceivable to the living, beating heart. Pure as they are, dolphins comprehend mere absolutes. How can you make a dolphin understand not only that humans can be both good and bad, tell lies and kill their own, but that rejection, abandonment can still mean undying love, ultimate sacrifice? "Men are bad," he tells them, hardly suppressing his utterly irreparable heartbreak, and ours.


Review by jzappa from the Internet Movie Database.