Whale hunting in the Faroe Islands is examined in a new and interesting way in this film.
“A Taste of Whale,” the newest documentary from filmmaker Vincent Kelner, begins in complete darkness, punctuated by 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 theaters 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.) Despite the fact that the hunts for pilot whales are not considered to be 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 clearly 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 find by peeking inside any slaughterhouse around the globe. Faroe Islands residents interviewed for the film, on the other hand, 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 end of the film, Kelner introduces a local environmentalist who explains that the Faroese waters are tainted with more than just whale blood.