Monday, November 7, 2022



Whales are one of the most mysterious creatures on this planet. As with most sea life, humans know very little about how these enormous, majestic beasts live their lives. In the documentary, Patrick and the Whale, marine videographer Patrick Dykstra goes on a journey to discover more about these amazing animals, and winds up making some emotional connections he never would’ve expected.

For 20 years, Patrick has devoted his life to studying whales of all types, but in this film, it is the sperm whale that’s focused on, particularly two, named Dolores and Can Opener. As he shares his journey with us, we get to experience the wonders of the ocean in a way that most will never get to do. He shows us things most of us will never get to see. It’s simply breathtaking to behold.

At one point, Patrick is able to connect and even communicate, although limited, with the sperm whale he named Dolores. It is such an incredibly powerful moment. The sheer beauty of it was intensely emotional. I didn’t know what to expect going into this film, but I definitely didn’t expect to get emotional, and this wasn’t the only time it happened.

He takes us to the site of a stranding, also referred to as a beaching. For those unaware, this is a phenomenon where a group of whales strand themselves on land. Patrick explains that in these instances it’s typically all young males who aren’t sick or injured. Something happens to one, and instead of leaving them behind, the rest join him in a tragic display of love and loyalty. It’s incredibly heartbreaking to think about, and even more so to see. You can see, in the film, just how deeply this affects Patrick.

However, one of the most heart-wrenching moments in Patrick and the Whale is with the whale known as Can Opener. After Dolores moved on, Patrick began to bond with Can Opener, who is part of a pod that he’s been interacting with for 10 years. But after an incident that caused her trust in him to waiver, we see them meet again and she gives him the cold shoulder. In that moment, you can see how brokenhearted Patrick was, and so was I.

These whales are exceptionally smart, but very distrusting of humans to begin with. He explained that many of these whales would have been alive when whaling was still a big thing, and he posits that they most likely remember it, which absolutely blew my mind. This is the epitome of “forgive, but never forget.”

Overall, this is one of the most beautiful and breathtaking nature documentaries I have ever seen. To see these magnificent creatures through the eyes of someone like Patrick, who just absolutely loves them with all of his being, was an incredible experience. It’s a film everyone needs to see, as we all should strive to understand these animals a bit better, and hopefully, through Patrick’s work, we eventually will.


The Merc’s Score: 10/10




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