Monday, November 01, 2004

Movie Review: Winged Migration (2001)

A film by Jacques Perrin

What we have here is a documentary about birds in flight. This is a simplistic description, but an accurate one. This documentary film follows the life of migratory birds from the beginning of their flight all the way through to the end, which is really just the return to where they started. What makes "Winged Migration" different, interesting, and beautiful is the level of video photography in the film. I have no idea how it was done (I didn't watch any of the bonus features on the DVD), but the camera was right next to the birds in flight, so the viewer has the closest approximation of being in flight as is possible while watching a movie. The close ups of the birds in flight are absolutely amazing.

Visually, "Winged Migration" is a stunning film. The narration, however, is very brief so we are left with mostly just the images of the birds. An example of the narration is these sentences, "For many birds in Europe the journey's end is Africa. But many will fall by the wayside." These two sentences comprised the entire narration for at least a ten to fifteen minute sequence. Narration is hardly needed for this film to be captivating. We see the hazards of migration: the weather, natural predators, hunters, farmers, and the environmental impact of man. We see incredibly beautiful landscapes from a bird's eye view (in this case, literally).

"Winged Migration" is a visual film. This is the appeal of it. It is really the best National Geographic film that has ever been made, except that it wasn't made by the good people at National Geographic. But, that is the style of "Winged Migration". Knowing what style of documentary this is should help you decide if this is a movie you want to see. It is visually stunning, but there is very little narration. You are watching birds in flight. I thought it was beautiful.

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