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Sealers: One Last Hunt on JMAN.tv - The Best Documentaries... Instantly On Demand

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There were 200 Norwegian sealing vessels at the start of the 19th century; now there is only one. Meet the last sealers of the West Ice, as they tackle dramatic Arctic seascapes in hunt of this controversial meat. Despite international criticism, this motley crew keep alive an ancient part of Norwegian culture. With beautiful cinematography, this intimate and sensitive doc captures their difficult life in hostile waters and a bloody tradition that refuses to die.

"They've been saying, 'this is my final season' since the 80s. But when the season starts, there's one guy who goes one last time, and another and another." As the crew prepare for another perilous voyage through the polar ice, ship's helmsman Espen relates how this hunt has lingered on. Frowned upon by the international community, sealing has all but died throughout the West, and this former staple of Norwegian culture is on the verge of extinction. However, a small core of hunt veterans feel the annual urge to brave wild and frozen oceans in this pursuit. "When the season starts to draw near, I can feel the pull in my guts."

At the head of this band is stubborn old-timer Bjøne. Through his dogged tenacity he has earned the captaincy of this craft and the trust of its crew. "Sometimes it's better to make a wrong decision than no decision at all," is his approach to seamanship. But it is his seasoned knowledge of the seals and the seas they inhabit that makes this difficult trip possible.

Joining the crew is first-timer Håkon, who must test his nerve in this grisly enterprise, and struggles with his sentiments for their lovable prey: "It might be a problem when I'm out on the ice, clubbing those cute little..." But before he can finish, another chips in, "At the course we learned how you should smash the brain cavity." Can Håkon make the grade in one of the toughest jobs in the world?

With astounding camerawork and great depth, this film intimately portrays a controversial practice and those who believe in keeping tradition alive, despite the odds.

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