Whale hunting in the Faroe Islands is examined in a new and interesting way in this film.
“A Taste of Whale,” the newest documentary by filmmaker Vincent Kelner, starts in total darkness with the shrill cries of men and the high-pitched clicks and whistles of a distressed whale. It is suggested that Paul McCartney said, “If slaughterhouses had glass walls, everyone would be a vegetarian.”
When “A Taste of Whale” opens in theatres and on-demand, it’s hard not to be swayed by its unconventional take on a centuries-old debate about whale hunting in the Faroe Islands. Faroese whalers herd large pods of pilot whales into shallow bays, where they are slaughtered in large numbers for food during the hunting season known as “the grind.”
(The islanders salt-cure any meat that isn’t eaten right away.) Even though the hunts for pilot whales are not considered a threat to the species, animal welfare organizations such as Sea Shepherd have called for an end to the practice, arguing that it is unnecessary and even murderous.
He has reservations about the hunt or its optics; if there is any explicit message to be found here, it’s that the Faroe Islands’ killing of whales is no more gruesome than what one may discover by peeking inside slaughterhouses around the globe.
On the other hand, Faroe Islands residents interviewed for the film agree.
With this in mind, Kelner points out the locals who go fishing in the bay and kill shorebirds with their hands to demonstrate their desire to have a hand in where their food comes from rather than rely on an opaque global food system.
Even so, he’s on board with the Sea Shepherd leaders who argue that meat should never be eaten in the first place. Towards the film’s end, Kelner introduces a local environmentalist who explains that the Faroese waters are tainted with more than just whale blood.