Synopsis: “Dolphin Tale” is inspired by the amazing true story of a brave dolphin and the compassionate strangers who banded together to save her life. Swimming free, a young dolphin is caught in a crab trap, severely damaging her tail. She is rescued and transported to the Clearwater Marine Hospital, where she is named Winter. But her fight for survival has just begun. Without a tail, Winter’s prognosis is dire. It will take the expertise of a dedicated marine biologist, the ingenuity of a brilliant prosthetics doctor, and the unwavering devotion of a young boy to bring about a groundbreaking miracle-a miracle that might not only save Winter but could also help scores of people around the world. The real Winter, who plays herself in “Dolphin Tale,” today serves as a symbol of courage, perseverance and hope to millions of people-both able and disabled-who have been touched by her remarkable story of recovery and rehabilitation.
Release Date: September 23, 2011 MPAA Rating: PG-13
Genre(s): Children and Family,
Dolphin Tale is based on the true story of Winter, a dolphin that was injured by a fishing trap and had to have her rear tail removed due to infection. It is also about the relationship between Winter and the young boy, Sawyer Nelson (Nathan Gamble), who assisted in the rescue of her on the beach in Florida. Dolphin Tale falls right in line with films centered around animal care, rescue, and bonding, such as Free Willy. It is an emotional roller coaster, and not purely because of Winter’s story alone.
Sawyer Nelson is a boy who does not do well in school, has no friends, and is very lost. His father left a few years ago and while his single mother Lorraine (Ashley Judd) loves him dearly the loss of his father has left Sawyer damaged. Sawyer’s cousin Kyle (Austin Stowell) tries his best to play the father-figure Spencer desperately needs but Spencer is unique, and his shyness is hard to overcome; Kyle leaving on deployment does not help matters either. A fated meeting on the beach with a dolphin soon to be named Winter changes Spencer’s life forever, just as it changes Winter’s too. Spencer becomes involved with the Clearwater Marine Hospital where Winter is taken, and it is the bond he forges with Winter that gives him the ability to come out of his shell as well as her the ability to fight for her own survival when her tail is removed.
The course of Winter’s treatment at Clearwater Marine Hospital is fascinating. She finds the ability to swim without her tail but her struggle is not nearly over. Fate steps in again when Winter is in need in the form of tragedy. Kyle is injured at war and sent to the VA hospital back home. Spencer visits him there and meets a prosthetics doctor, Dr. McCarthy (Morgan Freeman), that just may solve the problem Winter faces by not having a tail. What looked to be a movie about a dolphin learning to swim again turns into a moving story about overcoming disabilities, for a dolphin and people alike.
Dolphin Tale is a great movie, full of inspiring moments that evoke deep emotional stirrings with a lead child actor who shows immense talent. It is the combination of the incredible bond between Winter and Spencer, and the positive reinforcement Winter has on disabled people that makes it full of sentiment and heartwarming. As true stories go this is one you will want to watch because of the positive messages it portrays, and it has the happiest of endings.
The common term used is “a man and his dog.” In the case of Dolphin Tale it is “a boy and his dolphin.” The young Nathan Gamble who stars as Sawyer Nelson has the task of bonding with a dolphin, in order to evoke emotional platitudes from the viewer. Nathan succeeds with flying colors, and Winter the dolphin who plays Winter in the film, is as great a dolphin one would desire. It may seem strange to talk about chemistry between a boy and a dolphin, and it is even stranger to have to write about it as well. But there is something in Nathan’s face, and the way he handles Winter with such great care and also hesitation that makes Dolphin Tale work. This is not simply a story about an injured dolphin, but a story in how a dolphin and a boy help each other to overcome their difficulties. Dolphin’s are said to be highly intelligent mammals, even more so than humans depending on who you ask. It is not surprising then when Winter speaks, through the dolphin song or his signature tweety bird vocalization to Spencer, that you feel he is communicating with Spencer and sharing his emotions. The casting of Nathan Gamble was the smartest thing the filmmakers behind Dolphin Tale could do because he mashes perfectly with Winter, and has the bond with the dolphin that is essential to the film.
Cast and Crew
- Director(s): Charles Martin SmithAndrew A. Kosove
- Producer(s): Karen JanszenNoam Dromi
- Screenwriter(s): Morgan Freeman (Dr. McCarthy)Ashley Judd (Lorraine Nelson)Harry Connick Jr. (Dr. Clay Haskett)
- Story: Nathan Gamble (Sawyer Nelson)
- Cast: Juliana Harkavy (Rebecca)Austin Stowell (Kyle Connellan) Harvey RosenstockKarl Walter LindenlaubMichael Corenblith
- Cinematographer: Mark Isham
- Production Designer(s):
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- Casting Director(s):
- Music Score:
- Music Performed By:
- Country Of Origin: USA