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Worth A Look: 38.64%
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Sucks: 6.82%

4 reviews, 20 user ratings

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Winged Migration
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by Collin Souter

"Mother Nature remains our best special effect"
5 stars

I find myself nit-picking bits and pieces of “Winged Migration.” The documentary about birds migrating around the world tells us at the beginning that nothing you will see is a special effect. Yet, there exist certain shots in the movie that have obviously been either staged or constructed. Some of the music sounds a tad bit cheesy as well. Just a tad bit, though. In spite of these nagging problems in my head, one thing remains crystal clear: “Winged Migration” is one of the astonishing movies I have ever see and nothing can take away from that.

Jacques Perrin, who also made a documentary about a bug’s life titled “Microcosmos,” has crafted a feature in which we are made to feel as though we can fly. It captures all kinds of winged creatures such as ducks, cranes, geese, eagles, swans of all kinds, including many you may never have heard of at their most majestic as well as their most humorous. A caption at the bottom of the screen tells us what kind of bird we are looking at and how many miles it must migrate (often over 1,000). Through narration, Perrin gives us the information that cannot be conveyed visually.

Thankfully, he speaks sparingly, forgoing the usual Nova-type monologues telling us all about “what this animal feels about its prey” and “how that animal turns down the sexual advances of his cell-mate,” etc. Instead, Perrin alerts us to the changing of seasons and how some birds don’t quite make the entire journey due to some unforeseeable tragedy or mis-hap. The movie spans one year, starting with ducks in a pond, one of which struggles to break free of some strange netting that lurks at the bottom. This little event ends up being a bit of a story in itself.

So, for the most part, “Winged Migration” lets the visual magic of Mother Nature speak for itself. Perrin and his crew capture these soaring birds from just about every possible (as well as seemingly impossible) angle. His cameras go to the dizziest of highs to the most intimate of lows and close-ups. We fly with the birds in their V formation and even take on the point of view of a nest of birds waiting for their mother to return. These kinds of shots look as though they must be faked somehow, but they’re not. (The shots I referred to at the beginning of this review will be obvious to you)

Perrin also captures the birds in their natural habitat when not flying. We get to see baby birds come into the world. We see birds that at first look graceful and dignified suddenly break into a deranged Muppet Show act. Unfortunately, though, we also witness some tragedies. At one point, Perrin shows ducks flying through New York. In the background, we see the Twin Towers, a shot Perrin probably could have scrapped if he wanted to. Suddenly, in the next shot, in the vast wilderness, tragedy strikes. Nothing, not even the animal kingdom, is immune.

“Winged Migration” is a great way to just sit back and look at the world that is often left off the tourism itineraries. We see lingering, vast shots of oceans and distant horizon-less land. We have the privilege of witnessing avalanches, overhead shots of fall colors in full bloom, icy tundra and scorching deserts. In some shots, we feel as though we are looking at the birds from a relatively low angle. However, once the camera dips down, we see though the clouds that we are in fact thousands of feet up in the air, making us feel dizzy and breathless at the same time.

“Winged Migration” will only disappoint you if you’re looking for a movie with a story or a “message.” This movie only wishes for us to drop everything in our busy lives and just take a good, long, wondrous look at what these amazing creatures can do. In many ways, “Winged Migration” accomplishes many things a regular movie can. It is often funny, exciting, sad, moving, dramatic and thought-provoking. It is made with such amazing skill that more often than not you sit with a gaping jaw with only one thought regarding the shots captured: “How did they do that?”

Personally, I’d rather not know. Like Mother Nature herself, some things should be left unexplained. Thankfully, “Winged Migration” only attempts to explain the philosophical aspects behind the yearly migrations. It is based on a promise to return and nothing else. Some make it, some don’t. That may seem too little to hang four years of one’s life on in order to make a movie about birds, but Perrin emerges triumphant by showing us a side of life in a way we will probably never see again. And, sure we could nit-pick bits of it here and there, but why? Is it wrong to love a movie simply because it’s amazing to watch? Like the subject of Mother Nature herself, you could complain and fixate on certain nagging elements, but if you do it too much you might miss the over-all beauty of it. Best to just let the movie, and nature, work its magic on you.

link directly to this review at https://www.hollywoodbitchslap.com/review.php?movie=7543&reviewer=233
originally posted: 05/05/03 11:59:43
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OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2003 Philadelphia Film Festival. For more in the 2003 Philadelphia Film Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2003 Seattle Film Festival. For more in the 2003 Seattle Film Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2003 San Francisco Film Festival. For more in the 2003 San Francisco Film Festival series, click here.

User Comments

1/29/07 action movie fan splendid documentary of mostly sea and pond birds on the wing--feels like we are flying too 5 stars
7/28/06 David Cohen Distracting music, narration adds nothing, tends to be redundant 3 stars
11/21/05 Kurtis J. Beard Beautiful. 4 stars
6/10/05 DM Gorgeous to look at, with a stirring soundtrack. 4 stars
1/05/05 Cody I dont like watching fake birds 1 stars
9/10/04 Naturezrevenge Once again, Nature's beauty kicks our asses. Potent, gorgeous, unpretentious and awesome! 5 stars
8/07/04 Jack Cool movie -- nature for nature's sake. No annoying commentary, no CGI, no explosions. 5 stars
6/30/04 The More You Know Reading topiary books has been more enjoyable than listening to Perrin, he ruins it for me. 3 stars
4/16/04 Michael Greenwaldt It's all about the cinematography, and luckily, it's quite beautiful. 4 stars
9/02/03 Tim Dalrymple Those who said this 'sucks' must not've seen it. Incredible! 5 stars
8/26/03 Dr. Robert Martin, Jr Astonishing and brilliant filming of worthy subjects! 5 stars
8/19/03 miranda beautifully filmed but (not sure why)I was a little disappointed in the movie 4 stars
7/31/03 Double G birds, i eat them. so does jurgen humdinger ed 1 stars
7/29/03 Yelena Very Good 5 stars
7/29/03 ownerofdajoint unique and brilliant.....see it before it's gone.... 5 stars
7/16/03 Doug Mackenzie Visually spectacular and spiritually uplifting (sorry!), but needs a better commentary. 5 stars
7/14/03 ownerofdajoint once in a great while a movie like this comes along;go see it... 5 stars
5/20/03 LARRY SUCKS 1 stars
5/18/03 Andrew Carden Excellent Direction & Cinematography; Beautiful Locations; Should've Won The Oscar. 5 stars
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  18-Apr-2003 (G)
  DVD: 22-Nov-2005



Directed by
  Jacques Perrin

Written by
  Jacques Perrin
  Stephane Durand

  Jacques Perrin

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