Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Eco-Pirate: Paul Watson

“The fact is that we live in an extremely violent culture, and we all justify violence if it’s for what we believe in.”~ Paul Watson
Some do what they can, others do what they must. Paul Watson belongs to the latter category. He's spent his entire adult life dedicated to saving whales, dolphins, seals and other marine life as a vocation and a compulsion. He's had no choice. Fanaticism has come naturally while most others shun it as something reserved for extremists or - yikes! - terrorists. In fact, Watson has endured despite being saddled with every pejorative, including "Eco-Pirate."

Trish Dolman, director of Eco-Pirate, succeeds in creating a film that adds to Watson's mystique as a valiant warrior and while sympathetic in its portrayal, it's not biased. The film explores the bitter and apparently ongoing resentments that erupted between Watson and Greenpeace, particularly Patrick Moore, when founder Bob Hunter stepped down in 1979. One of the film's most moving scenes involves Hunter's daughter, Emily, and Watson scattering Bob's ashes while on a table-top iceberg in Antarctica.

Greenpeace founder Bob Hunter (1941–2005)
The rupture between Watson and Greenpeace had to do with differences over what methods to employ for achieving the best results, the old "ends justifying the means" conundrum. Watson is described by Moore as a rogue, an irresponsible megalomaniac who was undermining Greenpeace's Gandhian mandate of non-violence. Watson counters that the proof is in the pudding - he has consistently reached his goals while Greenpeace has largely failed in its founding mission. The break propelled Watson to form the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society in 1978, which has recently spearheaded campaigns against Japanese whaling in Antarctica. Much of the film's best footage is taken from this expedition in 2010.

Watson is the genuine article, someone worth admiring if only because he lives his passion. That it involves defending those who can't defend themselves makes him all the more worthy of support.

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