2013 PG-13 1h 20m Blu-ray / DVD


2013 PG-13 1h 20m Blu-ray / DVD
  • Overview
  • Details
This fascinating documentary examines the life of performing killer whale Tilikum -- who has caused the deaths of several people while in captivity -- and questions the safety and humaneness of confining these intelligent creatures.
Blu-ray DVD
Widescreen Anamorphic 1.78:1
English, Spanish (Neutral)
English: Dolby Digital 5.1
Widescreen 1.78:1
English: Dolby Digital 5.1
PG-13 - Some material may be inappropriate for children under 13. Parents are urged to be cautious. Some material may be inappropriate for pre-teenagers. PG-13 - Some material may be inappropriate for children under 13. Parents are urged to be cautious. Some material may be inappropriate for pre-teenagers.
age 14+
Common Sense rating OK for kids 14+
age 14+

Common Sense Note

Parents need to know that Blackfish is a documentary about captive whales that perform at theme parks and sometimes attack and kill humans. The movie claims that whales in the wild are generally peaceful, intelligent, and emotional creatures and that their treatment at the hands of corporate theme parks possibly created anxiety and frustration that led to the attacks. It contains some disturbing imagery, including wounded whales, some real blood (from both whales and humans), and video footage of actual attacks. More violence is verbally described but not shown. There is frank discussion of the breeding of whales, including a shot of what could be a whale's penis. The movie contains some occasional strong language, including one use of "s--t" and some uses of "damn" and "hell." SeaWorld ads are shown, and some of their products (stuffed toys whales) are shown. It's not for young kids, and it can be disturbing, but this is a powerful, effective documentary for teens and up.

Sexual Content

No human sex, but there's a frank discussion about the breeding of the whales, including mentions of sperm as well as a shot of trainers extracting the sperm from what could be a whale penis.


First, there's the whale-on-whale violence. Female whales are described as "raking" Tilikum, and the various, horrible teeth marks -- and a shot of profuse bleeding -- are shown. Then, there's the footage of humans being harmed by whales, either grabbed and dragged underwater or bitten. Overall, events are more described than shown, but there is a generous amount of (real) blood shown, as well as some fairly disturbing video footage of attacks in progress. There are harrowing, verbal descriptions of dead whales and swallowed human body parts.


There is one use of the word "s--t" (as in "scared s--tless"), as well as uses of "damn," "hell," "oh, God," and "butt." One character uses the humorous phrase "whole fam damily" (a play on "whole damn family").

Social Behavior

The movie essentially calls for an end to aquatic theme parks and for freedom for whales. Even though the parks give people a chance to see these magnificent whales close up, the treatment of the whales is not worth it. It makes an argument about the whales being miserable and tortured while in confinement, and that this misery leads to outright danger for humans. It also argues that the park owners do their best to hide all this information from both the public and from employees, with the goal of keeping the parks open and making money.


SeaWorld is mentioned by name, and some television ads are shown. The movie mentions the selling of tickets as well as stuffed toy whales, and there's a shot of a young girl cuddling her new stuffed toy. By no means is this film an ad for SeaWorld, however; rather, it tries to keep people away.

Drugs / Tobacco / Alcohol

Not applicable

  • Age appropriate
  • Not an issue
  • Depends on your child and your family
  • Parents strongly cautioned
  • Not appropriate for kids of the age

This information for parents is provided by Common Sense Media, a non-profit organization dedicated to improving kids' media lives.

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