Dr. Jake Terrell is a researcher who, along with his wife Maggie, specializes in the study of aquatic life. Dr. Terrell's current research concerns the intelligence of Dolphins, which he believes have the capability to speak. Their research is funded by a major corporation but the Doctor likes to keep his findings close to the chest. When Dr. Jake Terrell succeeds in his hypothesis, their small research team begins to gain a lot of attention from both the corporation and outside influences. Mike Nichols' The Day of the Dolphin is a film that gets a bad wrap because of its questionable plausibility. Essentially this a film about dolphins who are used as pawns in a plot to kill the president of the United States. Obviously this is an outlandish concept but when you get past that fact, The Day of the Dolphin is a well-crafted thriller. The film opens with Dr. Jake Terrell sharing his latest research on Dolphins, oozing over their intelligence and the complexity of their brains. As his lecture continues, the film intercuts sequences showing the U.S government performing a battery of tests on these creatures. It is completely unclear as too what these tests are and whether they are for good or evil, but this simple yet well-crafted montage effectively sets up the power struggle which is a central theme of The Day of the Dolphin. Dr. Terrell's desire to keep his dolphins isolated from the rest of the world stems from his distrust in humanity. He fears what this type of knowledge could do to the world, often taking a very pessimistic point of view. I think this is a view the filmmakers share in that The Day of the Dolphin essentially showcases mankinds greed and power over all things. The reason this film worked so well for me is the romanticism which the film exudes for these dolphins. While it's clear early on that Dr. Terrell has a great deal of respect and passion for these creatures it's nice to see that the filmmakers seem to echo that sentiment. The film really shoots these creatures in a romantic sort of way, showcasing their beauty and intelligence. Sure the narrative of The Day of the Dolphin is a little silly but that shouldn't take away from the fact that the Mike Nichols - Buck Henry combo together with George C Scott's performance deliver a fun, well made thriller.
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