The documentary was born out of the author’s desire to tell the story of a man in his environment with all the accompanying dilemmas.
It focuses on swordfish hunting using a harpoon and the doubt that Giuseppe feels towards having to kill the fish.
Father and son are in a confrontation caused by the expectation of a child to carry on family tradition and how it conflicts with the child own desire of how the environment should be preserved.
It is a story that develops simultaneously along two separate tracks, the issue that Giuseppe must confront in killing his first swordfish which, for his family is a sort of rite of passage into adulthood. At the same time, it is a documentary on an ancient form of fishing still in use today.
This fishing method is especially important today in that it is one of the best examples of sustainable fishing. The fish selected are always large chosen carefully. For years now, people have discussed the importance of sustainable living in order to save the planet. The point made here is that sustainable fishing cannot meet demand because we as a society are not sustainable.
Giuseppe eventually realizes the importance of this method of fishing and is able to come to terms personally with all the steps that need to be taken to be successful. Doing so, he is following in the footsteps of his ancestors. In this world the desire for profit has often come first over concern for the environment, often with serious consequences. The fishing boats now used are in danger of disappearing because of the high operating cost and low profit margins. This sustainable fishing method is in danger too because it is being taken over by modern methods that are not selective.
The story in this documentary addresses the problem of overfishing from different angles. To this day the Mediterranean continues to be overfished and fishing regulations have not been strict enough to give the sea a chance to regenerate. Harpooning, however, represent the best chance that the Strait could have in allowing it to be sustainable and thus conserving the species. THE HARPOON is, above all, a story that helps us reflect upon the role that the environment and the sea have in the development of man and in finding a way for people and the environment to live together in a more balanced manner.
The environmental theme inevitably intertwines with questions on whether to continue to kill to eat and with the absolute value that life has. There will be no definitive answers, only the search for a better world.
Giuseppe is our magnifying glass. His point of view helps us watching at the sea from a new viewpoint that is the growing awareness that we, most of the time, observe the world distractedly. As Giuseppe says, “the sea from above always appears the same, but reality can’t be perceived on the surface, one has to go beyond appearances”, and by gazing through the deep sea one can discover that it is drying up like a desert. Giuseppe is aware that he has to do something to avoid it, but at the same time he cannot forget his own roots.
Giuseppe’s doubt about becoming a swordfish hunter or not is similar to the personal choices that everybody of us, sooner or later, has to make with inevitable difficulties and contradictions. Giuseppe’s dilemma brings the protagonist to a positive awareness that may help future generations in making responsible and respectful decisions on nature issues.