Rule of Three



directed by Gabriela Cowperthwaite

View a promotional image for the film

Seats are packed at the SeaWorld stadium, as onlookers enjoy the Shamu show. A senior trainer, Dawn Brancheau, plays with the starring orca, Tilikum, after the main entertainment has ended. She seems at ease; she feeds him and splashes water on his flippers, rewarding him for tricks. But then things begin to go wrong. The bucket of fish starts to empty, and Tilikum seems to become frustrated. Camera turned off, Brancheau is dragged underwater, grievously harmed, and drowned. By challenging the cruelty of captivity, Blackfish asks how this came to happen. When a killer whale held hostage lives up to its name, where does the blame lie?

Words by John Wadsworth

Rust and Bone

directed by Jacques Audiard
Feature film

View a still from the film

A hand lies on crisp, white sheets, tag tied around the wrist, cannula held in place. It lifts then drops back down to the bedding. We cut to a shot of the woman it is attached to. She lies alone in a hospital ward, bathed in pale blue light, only a single fluorescent tube secured to the wall above her head. Slowly, she wakes, props herself up on her elbows, then pushes herself into a seated position. Still dazed, she looks with confusion at the outline of the body beneath the covers. She throws them back to reveal two bandaged legs, both amputated above the knee. Recoiling in horror, she grabs and grasps at the wires that hang beside her.

Words by John Wadsworth


by Kate Bush

View the album cover

To move has two principal definitions: to stir emotion, or to stir in motion. On the opening of her debut album, Kate Bush’s notoriously distinctive vocalisations establish their intention to do both. Within just two words, we are introduced to the melismatic mordents that will soon become so familiar. With the arrival of the chorus, this stranger’s warbling enters a duet with itself, sharing a pentatonic scale in a parallel downward gesture. ‘You are just water,’ Bush later sings. ‘You flow around all that comes in your way.’ Her delivery reflects the rippling fluidity of her lyrics, while unforeseen intervals, rising and falling, emerge out of the blue.

Words by John Wadsworth

More to discover

Blackfish: You can watch the trailer here, and see an excerpt from the film here. Gabriela Cowperthwaite, the director, has penned a follow-up article about SeaWorld for The Guardian. Helen O'Hara has written about Blackfish's legacy for The Telegraph.

Rust and Bone: You can watch the trailer here, and see the excerpt described above here. Roger Ebert has reviewed the film here, and Cate Blanchett has written about Marion Cotillard's performance for Variety.

Moving: You can listen to the song here.

Today's connection

'Cetacean' means of, or relating to, marine mammals (whales, dolphins, and porpoises). Whales are the focus of Blackfish, and feature prominently in Rust and Bone. 'Moving' begins with whalesong.

Question of the day

What artworks related to whales or dolphins would you recommend?
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