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4.7 out of 5 stars
Fly Away Home (Special Edition)
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100 of 102 people found the following review helpful
on February 25, 2003
Format: DVD
The multiple chords struck by Carrol Ballard's heartbreaking work "Fly Away Home" are so universal, it is difficult to imagine a person of any gender or any age not being touched in some way by this genuine family film. Make no doubt, "Fly Away Home" is a true classic, timeless in beauty yet timely in theme. So many subjects are tackled, from estranged family dynamics to environmental messages, it is difficult to fully grasp this film's important impact from just one viewing. Each time I view this movie, I come away with new ideas, and a new hope for our common man and woman.
Film director Carrol Ballard has achieved such lofty heights before with his debut film "The Black Stallion" and his stunning follow-up "Never Cry Wolf." Amazingly, he has once again climbed to the top of a very high mountain with "Fly Away Home." The story is anything but simple, but its a tale of a mother, lost in a car accident, thereby forcing the reunion of a daughter and estranged father. He's an eccentric Canadian, living in the country, working on multiple sculptures and experimenting with flying machines. She's a lost soul, seemingly homeless without the guidance of her late mother. Yes, father (Jeff Daniels) and daughter (Anna Paquin) bond, but it's due to the nature which surrounds their rural homestead. In this case, an orphaned flock of geese Paquin raises from birth after the destruction of their natural habitat by encroaching development.
Paquin's character becomes a surrogate mother for these geese, and eventually she must learn to fly to enable the lost birds to travel south for the winter. Daniels accompanies his daughter out of love, and eventually understanding that this has become a rite of passage for his budding, maturing teenage girl. And somewhere along the way, a girl becomes a woman, and a father becomes a man.
Much of the credit for "Fly Away Home" goes to the brilliant cinematographer Caleb Deschanel, who also worked with Ballard on "The Black Stallion" and "Never Cry Wolf." Certainly the musical selection of Mary Chapin Carpenter's haunting "10,000 Miles" is an inspirational if not brilliant choice. But the story is the key, and during a time of changing family dynamics amidst a society of shrinking nature, I can't imagine a film utilizing both themes with such skilled and relevant ease.
"Fly Away Home" is such an important film, not only because a female protagonist breaks away from traditional bonds to find herself (no boy and his dog here), but because a self-centered man/father overcomes his weaknesses to find not only himself, but the person/daughter/child who defines his soul. "Fly Away Home" is about us finding our spirit during a trying time of divorce and misguided independent values. By bonding with the land, and as importantly with our family, we find our true spirit.
And finally, "Fly Away Home" will bring a tear to the most hardened spirit, causing us to hug the ones we love, human or animal. Is that not the purpose of art - film, book, music or otherwise? I have applauded Carroll Ballard before. After "Fly Away Home," I not only applaud this extraordinarily gifted director, I salute him.
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41 of 43 people found the following review helpful
Format: DVD
There's not a bad character in this movie, except for the animal control official who persists in locking up the geese. And Anna Paquin just keeps getting better and better and better. She's definitely a child actress who will NOT fade away as she matures.
Story (inspired by an autobiography) is based on a girl who, recently left motherless, is shopped to live with the eccentric dad (Jeff Daniels) she hasn't seen in years. And then she becomes surrogate mother to a flock of motherless goslings who insist on growing up into a flock of geese. Comes time for them to migrate south, and they won't go. The rest of the movie is the harebrained scheme of how the geese are taught to follow `Mom' in an ultralight. Beautifully and astonishingly photographed, this movie is an all around delight, a coming-of-age, a father-daughter bonding, a feel good story that is way more than the sum of its parts.
Ya gotta see it.
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22 of 23 people found the following review helpful
Format: Blu-ray
Before "Winged Migration", there was "Fly Away Home". A 1996 film which was loosely based on the 1995 autobiography "Father Goose" by Bill Lishman.

The film received positive reviews from many critics and audiences as the film would showcase a heartwarming tale primarily about family but something different was that this became the first Hollywood film to show the latest efforts in migration for birds and also introducing audiences to the concept of "imprinting". In other words, humans forming a bond with birds, geese when they are born and then raising them somewhat as a parent and then teaching them how to migrate and eventually increase their population away from harm.

Taking on the directorial role for "Fly Away Home" is Carroll Ballard, known for his work with films such as "The Black Stallion" and "Never Cry Wolf" joins writing team Robert Rodat ("Saving Private Ryan" and "The Patriot") along with Vince McKewin (television writer for many series such as "The A-Team", "Knight Rider", "Dallas"). Carroll Ballard known for his previous films that involve animals was back to directing a touching film about family, overcoming challenges and sticking together.

VIDEO & AUDIO:

"Fly Away Home" is presented in 1080p High Definition and with an aspect ratio of 1:85:1. As with most film created in the early-t0-mid-90's for Blu-ray releases, there is this softening effect that many tend to suffer from. With "Fly Away Home", one of the positive aspects of the picture quality is that the film is shot outdoors and thus, you get a sense of the beauty of nature with the lush green and red trees during the fall, the green scenery while the aircraft is in flight. Also, being in the air while the geese are flying. Very good outdoor shots and vibrant colors.

There is little softening effect during the indoor scenes but overall, picture quality is beautiful during the outdoors and many of the shots of the film are outdoors.

As for audio, audio is presented in English and French via Dolby TrueHD 5.1 and Spanish 5.1 (Dolby Digital). The film is primarily dialogue-based as the film is about conversations between father and daughter and daughter with family members. But one of the biggest showcase for "Fly Away Home" is the music from Mark Isham. Definitely creating a mood and the feeling of flight and beauty. Definitely well-incorporated to the Blu-ray and sounds great.

There is also good use of surround audio with the noise of the geese but overall the film is primarily a dialogue-driven film and the sound is quite clear coming from the front and center channels.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

For the special features included on the Blu-ray for "Fly Away Home", the features are in standard definition with English (stereo) audio with optional Spanish subtitles. Features included on the Blu-ray disc are:

* Director & Cinematographer Commentary - Commentary track by Carroll Ballard and Caleb Deschanel as they talked about the filming of the geese in flight. Definitely a complicated film to shoot and finding the various locations to shoot the film and the ultra gliders was a challenge. A very good commentary for those interested in learning how everything came together for the film.
* Operation Migration: Birds of a Feather Featurette - An 18-minute about Operation Migration. A company founded by Bill Lishman and Joe Duff in 1994, a non-profit charity organization and how they are migrating rare and endangered species in order to grow the population. The featurette introduces the various staff members and also, unlike the film and other countries which the birds are introduced to humans, the organization now wears costumes, so the birds will not think they are human. Very informative.
* The Ultra Geese Documentary - A 49-minute documentary which the film "Fly Away Home" is based on. The documentary features Bill Lishman and Joe Duff testing to see if they can treat geese new migration routes through the use of their ultralight aircraft. Their goal is to restore the population of birds through new migration routes and showing us what actually really happened in their experience vs. what actually happened on the film. The experiences that Lishman and Duff faced such as imprinting, the use of the ultralight aircraft, having 18 birds with its leader Igor and losing Igor, having to contend with the Wildlife Bureaucratic Service and more. Very entertaining as Lishman and crew actually had a lot of footage of training the geese to flying with the geese and more.
* HBO Making of: Leading the Flock Featurette - This 13-minute featurette showcases interviews with the director and the many talent involved in the film. Especially how everyone were quite impressed with Anna Paquin's performance in the film.

The Blu-ray is also BD-Live enabled.

JUDGMENT CALL:

"Fly Away Home" was definitely an enjoyable, heartfelt family film that touches upon the real life activity of Operation Migration and what they are doing to help restore endangered species of birds and helping them migrate. But what was even more remarkable was watching the cinematography of showing birds in flight and being so close to them. Granted, bird cinematography has since evolved since this 1996 film with the 2003 release of "Winged Migration" and also "Planet Earth" but considering the challenge of filming this scene, Director of Photography Caleb Deschanel successfully pulled it off. If anything, the nomination for "Best Cinematography" was definitely warranted.

As for Carroll Ballard, his name is known for hits such as the 1979 film "The Black Stallion" and 1983 film "Never Cry Wolf", films that deal with animals (which he followed up with his 2005 film "Duma" about an orphaned cheetah) and sure enough, a good director to take on the challenge for "Fly Away Home" and trying to create this bond between a young character with an animal, in this case, geese.

For younger talent, "Fly Away Home" definitely was a film that showcased Anna Paquin's talent as an actress. Having won an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress at the age of 11 (for the 1994 film "The Piano"), Paquin definitely brought a character with a lot of layers. A character having to deal with this new life, this father who she has never seen for years and then ultimately finding common ground thanks to her geese.

Jeff Daniels does a great job portraying Thomas, this inventor/naturalist with his shaggy beard and long hair but doing a great job of portraying a father who is not too sure if he can take care of his daughter. Credit to the writers who portrayed this family who really had nothing in common at first but eventually finding the common ground and eventually bonding through Thomas' love for flying and Amy's love for her geese and eventually, her becoming a pilot and sharing her father's enthusiasm.

The film also stars Dana Delany. Over a decade before her role currently in the TV series "Desperate Housewives", Delany was definitely known for her Emmy award winning work in the critically acclaimed Vietnam War television show "China Beach" during the late 80's and early 90's and a lot of her voice work for the Batman and Superman animated series.

Some may feel that Delany was under utilized in "Far Away Home" but nevertheless, despite a short role, an important role of portraying the girlfriend of Thomas and for her character as Susan trying to get close to his daughter Amy (Paquin).

If anything, the supporting actor who did shine in this film and definitely caught my attention was Terry Kinney as Thomas's brother David who brings a certain humor into the film as the uncle who is laid back but eventually comes up with major ideas to help the Thomas and Amy but most importantly, the geese.

"Fly Away Home" is a film that manages to hold up nearly 13 years later as a family film. On Blu-ray, for those interested in migration of birds will love that the Blu-ray does features two featurettes and one lengthy documentary on the actual story that the film is based on.

Especially knowing that certain things that happened in the film, happened in real life. For Bill Lishman who co-founded Operation Migration (and in real life was the man piloting the ultralight aircraft with the geese), the leader of the pack for his geese was Oscar and similar to the film, Oscar was separated from the pack and was lost but eventually found. But unlike the film where Oscar has a prominent part of being there with Amy during the flight, in real life, Oscar's return back to the pack of Geese was not an exactly enthusiastic return as the geese that he once lead turned against him. So, it was an interesting segment in the special feature showing the relationships of the geese.

So, my highlight was the documentary and also the informative special features included in this Blu-ray disc release and for those who enjoyed the 2003 film "Winged Migration", "Fly Away Home" was a film that definitely introduced many people to imprinting and new migration techniques. In fact, "Winged Migration" on Blu-ray is being releaased on the same day as "Fly Away Home" and Bill Lishman had some involvement with that film as well.

If I had any problems with the special features on the Blu-ray disc is that it doesn't include the isolated 5.1 Music Score with Composer Mark Isham's commentary which was included in the original 2003 DVD. The music was an important part of the film and I felt the DVD showing a tribute to Isham's music was awesome. But I was surprised it was omitted on the Blu-ray release. But regardless of the special feature not included, for Blu-ray fans, it's all about the picture and audio quality and "Fly Away Home" looks and sounds so much better via high definition that the Blu-ray version is the definitive version to own.

Overall, "Fly Away Home" is a touching, moving and enjoyable film about family and overcoming challenges. And the film manages to accomplish portraying the family bond between estranged father and daughter but also showcasing beautiful cinematography that really makes this family film worth watching.
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16 of 17 people found the following review helpful
on April 28, 2003
Format: DVD
"Fly Away Home" tells the story of Amy, a girl from New Zealand who has to stay with her father in Canada after her mother dies. During her time there she finds some goose eggs that later hatch. As soon as the geese hatch the first thing they see is Amy and so they imprint on her, thinking she is their mother. Due to the geese natural instinct to fly south, and the fact that they don't have their real mother to lead the way, Amy with the help of her father attempt to lead the geese south in their own hang gliders.
This is a very simple story done well, helping to create a pretty much perfect family movie. Jeff Daniels as Amy's father and Oscar winning Anna Paquin as Amy are equally fantastic, and I'd also like to give a shout out to Terry Kinney as Amy's uncle who is really quite funny. The directing by Carroll Ballard is brilliant and the cinematography is breathtaking and makes you feel like you are flying with Amy, her Dad and the geese. Not to mention the truly inspirational score by Mark Isham that is helping us along on our journey.
The DVD special features which although not necessarily entertaining are appropriately informative. And also, "Fly Away Home" has been digitally remastered and is presented in widescreen, so it's the best you'll see this movie. I suggest you fly to the store or internet terminal so you can buy this, before it flies off the shelves.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
Format: DVD
The great thing about this film is the way they integrate two films in one. First is the story of a young teenage girl, marvelously portrayed by Anna Paquin, who is forced to move to Canada to live with her father, whom she barely knows, after her mother dies. The second story is how she cares for a gaggle of geese who have her imprinted as their mother, and how she and her father decide to help the geese migrate to the Southern United States rather than have their wings clipped and live as tame rather than wild geese. As the two of them first learn to fly the ultra light aircraft that they will use to transport the geese and then actually undertake the journey to lead the geese south, they too manage to bond, just as the girl has with her geese. The end, when the girl has to fly the final leg by herself after her father has sustained an injury, will bring a tear to the eye of even the most flinty-hearted individual.
This is one of those films that some film viewers might overlook that they ought not. Many films are driven by cinematics; some, like this one, are driven by a marvelous story. I think just about everyone should give this film a chance, but parents with daughters should especially search this one out. As a single father of a daughter, I know from experience that this is the kind of film a young girl especially will find inspiration in.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
Format: DVD
What makes FLY AWAY HOME such a wonderful family film is that it doesn't rely on sentimental or maudlin tearjerking scenes to deliver its powerful message. Rather it asks the audience to join in the flight of these remarkable geese and the determination/courage of a young girl and her father to ensure that these sixteen birds migrate properly. Based on true events, the film benefits from the wise direction of Carroll Ballard (Never Cry Wolf, Black Stallion) and the remarkable cinematography of Caleb Deschanel. Jeff Daniels is very good as the inventor father who is reunited with his estranged daughter (a wonderful Anna Paquin) after her mother is killed in an automobile accident in New Zealand. A sense of down-to-earthiness is provided by Terry Kinney as Daniels' humorous brother who assists in the cause and Emmy winner Dana Delaney as Daniels' current significant other. Without any devastating crises or manipulation, FLY AWAY HOME tells a true story of wonderment and is a marvelous family film.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on February 26, 2003
Format: DVD
As a longtime admirer of Director Carroll Ballard, I was thrilled when the Special Edition of "Fly Away Home" was released on DVD. I wish Anchor Bay had done the same treatment to Never Cry Wolf. But this film is a classic for all ages. Its parallel story to the real life Bill Lishman is more than entertaining, it tugs at one's heart. And Anna Paquin is stunning as Amy as she is in every film.
FLY AWAY HOME is also an environmental manifesto because it calls attention to the need for less development and more care for our habitat. I've rarely seen any comments along these lines and if you watch the movie closely, you'll realize that this is a call for change in scraping the land off and piling up huge neighborhoods and industry. It is testimony to the need for conservation in all countries.
Finally, Fly Away Home is a family film that breaches the silliness that too many youth movies have evolved to. This movie treats younger viewers with intelligence, not like an etcha-sketch.
I believe anyone with heart and soul will enjoy this movie for it will touch both.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on September 29, 2005
Format: DVD
Excellent family film, with comedy and excitement mixed with emotion. The music score of Mark Isham really captures the feelings and moods of the story. Great cinematography
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
Format: DVD
The story of "Fly Away Home" is fairly predictable, in that we know full well that young Amy Alden (Anna Paquin) is going to persuade her father, Thomas (Jeff Daniels), to come up with a way of teaching a flock of adopted goslings how to fly and get them to a winter refuge in North Carolina. But predictability is not always a deterrent to a film being enjoyable or even inspirational, and you have to pity someone who cannot enjoy watching a bunch of baby geese running after Anna Paquin, convinced that she is there mother and therefore responsible for imprinting on them what they need to learn to survive. Besides, for what is ostensibly a children's film this one opens with a rather shocking scene, where we see a fatal car accident during the open credits while listening to a gentle melody. If there is anything that indicates this is more than your usual predictable children's film, this would be it.
If there is a flaw in "Fly Away Home" it is that the relationship between daughter and father takes a back seat to the story of the geese, so that the pathos that exists there is almost lost in the flapping of wings (but there is a nice moment and a good line when the father tells his daughter why he know what she can do it). They two have been estranged by distance (he returned to Canada while his wife and daughter lived in New Zealand), and living together is not improving things. He is an eccentric artist and inventor who cannot figure out how to connect with a living human being until the geese that come between them bring them together.
Fortunately, dad is spared the role of being the villain, because there are land developers at both ends of the flight and a wild life officer who knows what the rulebook says about domesticated geese. But those are just minor hurdles to the idea of flying 600-miles in four days in an ultra-light plane for Amy to lead her geese to their promised (wet) land. Yes, the idea that the clock is ticking and that bulldozers are ready to roll in North Carolina is all a bit much, but then there are moments, like when the ultra-lights and geese fly through the skyscrapers of Baltimore than just about take your breath away.
I was not aware until after I watched the film that director Carroll Ballard and cinematographer Caleb Deschanel had previously collaborated on "The Black Stallion," but that certainly makes sense because both films are perfectly willing to let pictures exist without dialogue. The other commonality is that "Fly Away Home" is another film that adults can enjoy just as much as the kiddies.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on October 17, 2001
Format: DVD
In the world of DVD, it is quite fashionable to talk about "must-have" DVDs, mostly because of the disks' technological superiority. But the Special Edition DVD of Fly Away Home is a disk that does genuinely belong in every movie lover's collection. The disk is full of extras and is beautifully rendered, but it is the film itself that makes this DVD a true must-have. Fly Away Home tells the kind of story that could oh-so-easily become sentimental or melodramatic. "Young teenage girl loses her mother in a car accident and goes to live with her estranged father. They learn to connect to each other, and to their own hearts, by teaching a flock of orphaned wild geese to fly." But make no mistake: this film is a first-rate family classic. It's the kind of movie that you cannot stop watching. The acting is honest and understated; the cinematography is superb (just about every single shot in this film could be put up on the wall, that's how beautiful the pictures are); the music is spot-on, moving from romantic to quirky moods with grace and ease; and Carroll Ballard's direction is just perfection, simply because you never notice it: he lets the story tell itself in images, in all its simplicity and beauty -- only at the end do you stop to realize that, oh yes, someone must have directed this film. And then there's the geese, the real stars of the film. Every time you see them take to the sky in this film's gloriously beautiful sequences, following Amy in her flying machine, they tell us the simplest and most profound of thuths: that this world is beautiful, and that we must not let it go to waste. In an age when movies seem to be mostly about machines, explosions and violence, Fly Away Home comes as an eloquent reminder of what really matters: that we take good care of the people that we love, and that we must never lose the courage to dream.
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