Movie Information

Whaledreamers will be shown by the Fine Arts Theatre on Wednesday, July 22, at 7 p.m. as a benefit for Asheville's Katie Kasben, who is traveling to Australia later this month to work on a cultural exchange program between Native Americans and Aboriginal Australians. The theater is screening the film to help with her trip. Admission is $10.
Genre: Philosophical Spiritual Documentary
Director: Kim Kindersley
Starring: Kim Kindersley, Julian Lennon, Pierce Brosnan, Jack Thompson
Rated: NR

Earnest and sincere to the point of painfulness (assuming you’re not one of the already converted), Kim Kindersley’s documentary Whaledreamers (2006) is a visually compelling work that suffers from trying to cover too many bases in one movie. I’m not at all sure, however, that it could ever be other than it is, since its ultimate topic is the connectedness of all things—something that fits a bit too snugly inside 89 minutes of screen time, especially if, like Kindersley, you want to connect as many of the dots as possible. I will not criticize the film for preaching to the choir, since, let’s face it, that’s what 99 percent of all agenda-driven documentaries and essay films do. (You don’t honestly think political conservatives flock to Michael Moore movies, do you? Or that secular humanists and heathens bought tickets to see the Ben Stein creationism picture?)

My biggest problem with the film lies in its obsession with background detail. This starts with producer Julian Lennon explaining (sort of) his involvement, and then expands to filmmaker Kindersley, who tells us how he left a burgeoning (which is debatable) acting career after having a very ‘60s-style epiphany involving looking into the eye of a dolphin. That started him down this path of involvement with the aboriginal Mirning tribe and the gathering of indigenous elders that’s at the center of his film. It’s all a little too fuzzily mystical for me, but it’s honest, and I’m not sure how he could have left it out. Also, I’m more in sympathy—in broad strokes, at least—with his themes than not. The striking visuals add immeasurably to it, but the more you’re on its wavelength, the more you’ll like it.

About Ken Hanke
Head film critic for Mountain Xpress from December 2000 until his death in June 2016. Author of books "Ken Russell's Films," "Charlie Chan at the Movies," "A Critical Guide to Horror Film Series," "Tim Burton: An Unauthorized Biography of the Filmmaker."

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