Posted under misc
On February 3 here in the United States, the film Big Miracle is opening in screens across the nation. The TV ads will tell you that the stars of the film, which is based on a true story, are Drew Barrymore and Jon Krasinksi (as well as Kristen Bell, Dermot Mulroney, Tim Blake Nelson, and Ted Danson). And I am sure they will be quite enjoyable to watch, but I’ll be watching for the whales.
We all know how charismatic and popular some whales are – especially humpbacks, orcas and just about all dolphins – but grey whales are sort of the second cousin. People know they are there, especially along the west coast of the US where there is a seasonal whale watch industry that’s just as interested in greys as other cetaceans, but how much do people really know in general? A couple of quick facts… There used to be grey whales in the Atlantic but they were hunted to extinction. One of the most critically endangered populations of whales in the world, the Western Pacific greys, are a group numbering around 130. They summer off the the Russian island of Sakhalin, near the northern end of Japan, where oil and gas exploration is strongly impacting their main feeding ground. One whale from that population has proven to be quite a traveler, having been tracked across the Bering Sea and down towards the coast of Oregon. Then there’s the grey whale that mysteriously turned up in the Mediterranean a couple of years ago.
For myself, doing a grey whale excursion off Baja is high on my bucket list. How many places can you go where it is ok, even encouraged, to give whales a great big kiss (just be careful of the cyamids on their skin. What’s a cyamid, you ask? Read further down…) I know people who have had this experience and every one of them loved it. The irony of this encounter is that it takes place in the same lagoons which used to be the scene of great slaughter of grey whales. I think it’s quite remarkable, both the turn around of our treatment of whales in that area, and their response to us given how many died in those lagoons, possibly within the memory of whales still encountered there.
So, I’m kind of excited to see another great whale species get some big screen treatment. Yes, it’s a dramatization. You know going in that it will have a happy ending even if you don’t know the story behind the film, because that’s the vibe that the commercials give. The website for the film has some cool facts about whales, including an interactive graphic which gives you a sense for the size of an average adult.
I am delighted to also be offering a give-away in honor of this film alongside this post. Remember above when I mentioned cyamids? Leave me a comment with their common name, and you’ll be entered into the drawing. Comments left up until Friday, February 3 at 9 PM Eastern are eligible, and you must live in the US. I’ll pick a winner from those comments. Your prize will be a $25 gift card to Fandango, a whale plush, and a Big Miracle t-shirt (total package value: $55.). Good luck and have fun! I’ll see you at the movies!
Important to note: no actual grey whales were used in the creation of the movie. The whales seen are animatronic, or archival footage from the actual rescue were used. More details and a trailer for the movie below. Giveaways and film details are courtesy Big Honcho Media and Universal Pictures – thanks, folks!
Directed by: Ken Kwapis
Screenplay by: Jack Amiel & Michael Begler
Produced by: Steve Golin, Michael Sugar, Tim Bevan, Eric Fellner
Inspired by the true story that captured the hearts of people across the world, the rescue adventure Big Miracle tells the amazing tale of a small town news reporter (John Krasinski) and an animal-loving volunteer (Drew Barrymore) who are joined by rival world superpowers to save a family of majestic gray whales trapped by rapidly forming ice in the Arctic Circle.
Local newsman Adam Carlson (Krasinski) can’t wait to escape the northern tip of Alaska for a bigger market. But just when the story of his career breaks, the world comes chasing it, too. With an oil tycoon, heads of state and hungry journalists descending upon the frigid outpost, the one who worries Adam the most is Rachel Kramer (Barrymore). Not only is she an outspoken environmentalist, she’s also his ex-girlfriend.
With time running out, Rachel and Adam must rally an unlikely coalition of Inuit natives, oil companies and Russian and American military to set aside their differences and free the whales. As the world’s attention turns to the top of the globe, saving these endangered animals becomes a shared cause for nations entrenched against one another and leads to a momentary thaw in the Cold War.