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Winged Migration

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The French film WINGED MIGRATION is an extraordinary experience. To call it a mere documentary is misleading because it has everything: drama, adventure, travel, pathos, art, romance, comedy, tragedy and ecstatic beauty that lifts you out of your seat and into the air to fly alongside these unbelievable beings we call birds. Who needs science fiction and digitally created other-worldly creatures when we have such a species living alongside us here on earth and looking down on us from the sky?

Directed by Jacques Perrin, the film took four years to make, using planes, gliders, helicopters and balloons as well as land vehicles and ingenious camera technology to follow the migration of numerous bird species in seven continents and forty countries from the Arctic to the Amazon, flying low over the Statue of Liberty and the Eiffel Tower, and getting stuck in the oil bogs of industrial wastelands.

There are no special effects and no need for any since those provided by nature are spectacular enough. When the soundtrack is only birds’ cries and other mesmerising environmental sounds it’s wonderful. But the narrator’s heavily French-accented voice is unfortunate, especially since the information he imparts is minimal, and the background music to the birds’ odyssey is an equally poor choice. But the quality of the film overrrides any such minor quibbles. There has never been another movie which allows you to fly close-up, beak to beak, with flesh and blood avian angels whose appearance – whether drop-dead gorgeous, awesome or comical – no designer could have imagined. Nor are we accustomed to seeing our world from a bird’s-eye view and it’s shocking, frightening and breathtakingly stunning. Don’t miss this film even if you have to fly for miles to see it.

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  • I don’t think it is very good as a doc for some of the reasons you mention (the narration & music), but it is an amazing visual experience.

    A DVD will be out in December and the making of and other extras should be fascinating, but see it in a theater if you can.

  • I did see it in a theatre here in London and you’re right, it does need the big screen. But I’ll buy the video when it comes out so I can have this wondrous thing forever.

    It could have had more information, spoken more clearly, but considering the fact that the visual aspect completely takes over your senses and your emotions, that’s a minor quibble.

  • By the way, Eric, this review was supposed to be filed under ‘Film’, not video, but I couldn’t find this category – is there one?

    And also btw, it’s been impossible to connect to BlogCritics for the past day or two. Or is that just from my computer?

  • Eric Olsen

    A, The “Video” category covers film, television, video and DVD. We just don’t hae enough room on the front page to separate them. Use the subcategories as best you can to further identify.

    We were moving the site over the weekend and had a variety of issues to deal with, but it shouldn’t have been down other than occasionally for brief periods.