In "The End of the Line," a documentary about overfishing, the underlying tone and message are admonishing: We are bad people. We are killing all the fish in the ocean because of intrinsically human greed, greed, greed!
But if the tone (along with the heavy-handed music) is occasionally off-putting, the message -- at least, the facts about the fish -- is harder to shrug off. In conversations with fisheries officials, scientists and others, director Rupert Murray paints a convincing scenario of extinct fish species and other unsustainable ecological damage in the very near future if big business continues unchecked.
As the film outlines, Newfoundland's ocean, once suffused with cod, became so depleted in the 1990s that the Canadian government was forced to close off fishing, causing the loss of more than 40,000 jobs. Around the world, commercial fishing and fish harvesting threaten similarly disastrous results. With visits to pertinent locations, including the fish markets of Dakar, Senegal, and Tokyo, the movie pays particular attention to the wholesale plundering of bluefin around the globe and its subsequent damage to the food chain, the ecosystem and local fishermen.
The movie does present solutions, including its urging of consumer demand for more accountability from restaurants and the building of marine reserves. And we get to meet Charles Clover, a steadfast anti-overfishing advocate, whose book ("The End of the Line: How Overfishing Is Changing the World and What We Eat") is the source material for the movie, as he takes us through the big, often alarming picture.
-- Desson Thomson (August 14, 2009)
Contains disturbing images of dead fish by the thousands.