don't know about you, but there's nothing I enjoy more after a hard
day's work than sitting back with a light-hearted documentary about
three-part series, The
is your standard observational fare; a wry glimpse into a world most
of us have never visited – in this case, an antique-packed auction
house catering to London's wealthy elite – where a host of
“colourful” characters go about their business against an
incessant backdrop of Danny Elfman-esque music.
what is it with the whimsical music in these documentaries? It's like
being beaten senseless by Johnny Depp dressed as a raggedy clown.
of super-rich people buying things they don't need, Lots Road auction
house is owned by a balding tumult of rudeness known as Roger Ross.
The staff were admirably frank in their open dislike of this brusque
multimillionaire, who's obviously supposed to be The
breakout star. But unlike, say, Mr Mitchell from Educating
Roger isn't a magnetic presence. He's a charmless businessman, a
chore to be around.
customers were only slightly more compelling. Regular visitors
Michael and Craig live in a house crammed with antiques and Old
Master paintings. Resembling a pair of carelessly shaved Wookies,
they plied their wares in the hope of buying a new set of teeth for
glamorous older lady Lily was looking to decorate her new home, a
seven bedroom mansion set in its own park. At Lots Road she had her
eye on a three-foot bronze vagina. No home should be without one. She
didn't actually like it, she just wanted to own an expensive-looking
piece of art. She eventually opted for a graffiti-covered table
idle whims of the foolishly rich aren't especially interesting, nor
are the bickering internal politics of the auction house itself. It's
a bum deal.
occasionally, a documentary comes along which tells a story so
bizarre and arresting, it's a wonder it isn't more commonly known.
Girl Who Talked to Dolphins was
one such film.
tragic saga of 1960s idealism gone sour, it chronicled a NASA-funded
experiment into communication with dolphins. Visionary scientist John
Lilly believed if humans could find a common language with these
intelligent creatures, then they could eventually communicate with
young assistant, Margaret, went one step further: she hatched an
ambitious plan to teach a dolphin to speak English. Based in a
customised Caribbean house/laboratory, she lived around the clock
with a dolphin named Peter. Their bond was so close, she thought
nothing of helping him to relieve his sexual urges in order to focus
on the lessons at hand. She described it as a precious, gentle
process, from which she gained no gratification herself.
troubling development was compounded by the revelation that Lilly
injected the dolphins with LSD, in the hope of communing with them
further. Understandably concerned, NASA eventually pulled the plug.
When the dolphins were shipped back to America, they were housed in
cramped, miserable, excrement-filled tanks.
and missing Margaret – was he in love with her? - Peter effectively
committed suicide by deliberately neglecting to breathe. Margaret
still talks of him with immense fondness.
the sex, drugs and questionable morals, this wasn't a salacious film.
Rather, it was a sad account of well-meaning humans infringing on the
welfare of animals. It was quite extraordinary.