Dolphin Tale is another family-friendly movie from the makers of Blind Side. It brings discussion of tragedy, mythology, and following a path.
If you’re looking for well-produced entertainment that is appropriate for your whole family, then Dolphin Tale will be a great choice! It comes from the same producers as Blind Side. There wasn’t even a single profanity, that I caught.
Unlike Free Willy or similar movies, Dolphin Tale contains only a little mythology. The rest is just a story inspired by real events of the dolphin Winter. As Hollywood does, most of the characters are representations or completely fictional.
This isn’t an action-packed movie. But it will make you smile as you see the lessons Sawyer learns as he tries to save a dolphin.
The rest of the recorded episode and these shownotes contain spoilers.
Dealing with tragedy
Dolphin Tale is about recovering from tragedy. Despite the fact that the dolphin Winter was harmed from a crab cage, the trade is not negatively viewed.
Sawyer’s cousin Kyle was added to the story in order to represent the people with disabilities who could be inspired by Winter’s story. “Look, mommy. She’s just like me,” as one girl put it.
Dolphins and mythology
We know that dolphins are quite intelligent mammals. Perhaps even the most intelligent animal by our measurements. “Some people think they’re smarter than we are.” But God placed man at the height of His creation and it is us with whom He communicates the most.
Then God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; and let them rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over the cattle and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.”God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them. God blessed them; and God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth, and subdue it; and rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over every living thing that moves on the earth.” [Genesis 1:26–28, NASB]
Although not a core point in Dolphin Tale, some Native American mythology is retold while explaining dolphins. The Chumash Indians have a tale of Hutash (or “Earth Mother”) and the Rainbow Bridge. Reading a more expanded Chumash myth reveals interesting correlations with Scripture. But also many glaring differences in who God is and how He acts.
While Dr. Clay (Harry Connick Jr.) explains how Winter is moving after her injury, he refers to how dolphins were “designed.” Yes! On day five, in fact.
Then God said, “Let the waters teem with swarms of living creatures, and let birds fly above the earth in the open expanse of the heavens.” God created the great sea monsters and every living creature that moves, with which the waters swarmed after their kind, and every winged bird after its kind; and God saw that it was good. God blessed them, saying, “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the waters in the seas, and let birds multiply on the earth.” There was evening and there was morning, a fifth day. [Genesis 1:20–23, NASB]
Knowing the right path
Choosing to devote so much effort to saving a dolphin is quite expensive and risky. It’s easy to question whether the effort would’ve been better placed helping people, even though God commanded us to care for His creation (Genesis 1:28).
When Dr. Clay is debating how much he can do for Winter, Dr. Clay’s father says, “Just because you don’t know the where star doesn’t mean you have the wrong star.” (I may not have the exact wording correct.)
This idea is a little troubling. Using navigational stars as metaphors for direction in life is common. But this phrase could make it sound like we should keep on in any direction we feel like, even if we don’t know where we came from or where we’re going.
The steps of a man are established by the LORD,
And He delights in his way.
When he falls, he will not be hurled headlong,
Because the LORD is the One who holds his hand.
I have been young and now I am old,
Yet I have not seen the righteous forsaken
Or his descendants begging bread.
All day long he is gracious and lends,
And his descendants are a blessing.
[Psalm 37:23–26, NASB]
- We see how important it is for kids to be engaged in their education.
- Sawyer’s new friend, Hazel, says she’s homeschooled and that is never viewed negatively.
- Sawyer’s mom (played by Ashley Judd) is happy to see Sawyer “turned on … by something that’s not a Gameboy.”
- Sawyer’s parents are divorced and his dad is completely absent.
- Hazel “prays” to her dead mom.
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