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Jonathan Livingston Seagull

4.1 out of 5 stars 111 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

Jonathan is sick and tired of the boring life in his sea-gull clan. He rather experiments with new, always more daring flying techniques. Since he doesn't fit in, the elders expel him from the clan. So he sets out to discover the world beyond the horizon in quest for wisdom.

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There isn't a lot of middle ground when it comes to Jonathan Livingston Seagull, which comes to DVD in 2007, 34 years after it was released theatrically, 15 years after it appeared in the VHS format, and nearly 40 years after the first publication of Richard Bach's novella. One person's poetic is another's pretentious; while many find inspiration and enlightenment in its allegorical message of self-realization and fulfillment, many others are repelled by its sophomoric, superficial moralizing. There is, however, one aspect of director Hall Bartlett's film that pretty much everyone agrees on: it's beautifully photographed, and richly deserving of its 1974 Oscar nomination for Best Cinematography, with shot after breathtaking shot of the titular bird and his flock on the wing (and done without CGI or other modern technological trickery, other than the use of some radio-controlled models). Still, even an ornithologist would grow weary of endless shots of seagulls soaring and swooping, and when they start to talk, well, that's where the battle lines are drawn. James Franciscus, speaking in a hoarse, urgent whisper, supplies the voice of Jonathan, a young gull obsessed with flying higher, faster, and "without limits." This doesn't sit too well with the conformist stiffs who run the show, and the rebellious Jonathan finds himself an outcast… at least until he hooks up with some other, more evolved birds, who show him an existentially higher place and encourage him to return to his flock (who have names like Kirk Maynard, Judy Lee, and Charles-Roland) and share his profound life lessons with the others. If all of that sounds a bit sententious, that's because it is; while there's no arguing with the film's positive gist (basically, that it's good to be yourself and take a few risks), it's hammered home with all the subtlety of a Thomas Kinkade painting. Neil Diamond's music doesn't help, either, as the songwriter (with collaborator Lee Holdridge) delivers some of the most cloying songs of his career, somehow managing to sound sentimental and grandiose at the same time. In the end, perhaps the best solution is to watch Jonathan Livingston Seagull with the sound off. --Sam Graham

Special Features

None.

Product Details

  • Actors: James Franciscus, Juliet Mills, Philip Ahn, David Ladd, Kelly Harmon
  • Directors: Hall Bartlett
  • Writers: Hall Bartlett, Richard D. Bach
  • Producers: Hall Bartlett
  • Format: Color, Dolby, Dubbed, Subtitled, Widescreen, NTSC
  • Language: English (Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono), French (Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono)
  • Subtitles: English
  • Dubbed: French
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: G (General Audience)
  • Studio: Paramount
  • DVD Release Date: October 2, 2007
  • Run Time: 120 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (111 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B000RZIGRW
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #43,303 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Jonathan Livingston Seagull" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: VHS Tape Verified Purchase
It is of course important to mention first off that this is not your standard movie. For a movie going audience conditioned by such spectaculars as Harry Potter, Titanic, Star Wars, and Spider-Man, it would be hard to imagine exactly how this would play out in the theaters today (as I recall, it didn't fair to well back in 1973 either).
All of this doesn't mean this isn't a -good- movie. It contains a lot of sweeping ocean scenery, with of course lots of wonderful footage of seagulls. It also has the great score by Neil Diamond, and then woven throughout this is the original story by Richard Bach. And it is perhaps in that order that this movie exists. It is a relaxing, calming, as well as uplifting (on a very subtle scale) experience. To watch it with the same rapt attention that you might a modern "spectacular", you would no doubt be quickly disappointed and bored. Instead, it should be watched at a time when you just want to relax, no pressing chores calling your name, and no interruptions that you might need to deal with. You might think of this as the closest thing to a full-body massage for the mind, encapsulated in a hour and a half movie.
One caveat however, is that I would recommend that you read the book first, because there are times when exactly what is going on with the seagulls is a little confusing, and difficult to figure out from what happens on-screen.
While I doubt it will ever happen, I would love for this to be released on DVD, it would greatly improve the quality of the video and soundtrack (both copies I've seen of this movie have had an mildly distracting "tracking" problem which results in pops and crackles in the audio), and it would perhaps also allow supplimentary audio tracks with discussions from Richard Bach, Neil Diamond, and perhaps others associated with this film (Hall Barlett, the director died in 1993).
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Format: VHS Tape
This movie is so uplifting! The music and photography are mesmerizing, as well as the messages of striving to reach past your perceived limits to totally new horizons. When I'm troubled I watch the movie or listen to the cd and remember that it's the striving in life that makes us who we are, not our present problems.
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The wise words of Jonathan Livingston Seagull live today as well. "You have the freedom to be yourself, your true self, here and now, and nothing can stand in your way." This movie is something the whole family can enjoy. And if you haven't already buy the soundtrack on CD and Richard Bach's book. It's a pleasant dream when you need one. That is one bedtime story I want to wake up to.
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Watching this video to me was a spiritual experience! I really related to that gull. This extremely well done movie reminds me of the deepest parts of myself, still yearning for fulfillment. It also warns strongly against the fear and peer-pressure that so often distract seekers from their highest goals. It is a reminder to each eternal soul that it is still possible to live your vision and find God in yourself.
After finishing this movie I went outside and wept. Am I fulfilling my purpose in life? That dream that I once had of something greater? This movie sings: wake up and live again!
Great music!
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Format: DVD Verified Purchase
The wise words of Jonathan Livingston Seagull live today as well. "You have the freedom to be yourself, your true self, here and now, and nothing can stand in your way." This movie is something the whole family can enjoy. And if you haven't already buy the soundtrack on CD and Richard Bach's book. It's a pleasant dream when you need one. That is one bedtime story I want to wake up to. And for those of you who are going to ask me, "hey didn't you say these exact words when you reviewed the VHS copy?", you better believe it because now we can appreciate Jon's story forever on DVD.
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By A Customer on July 24, 1999
Format: VHS Tape
I love the book, but this is one of the rare times when the film is as good as the book. I don't even mind the differences between the book and the film--and I worship the book! The photography, Neil Diamond exquisite songs--the beauty of them together makes me cry every time I watch it. And not many movies make me cry for any reason!
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Format: VHS Tape
Voice over - awful.

Message - Brilliant.

This is a film about an anthropomorphic bird, a seagull who wants to break from the flock's set ways, tiring of the endless meaningless pursuit of mere survival. He wants to learn rather than blindly conform, would risk death in order to truly be alive.

This is an eternal story - the one who wants to understand becomes an outcast, and ultimately comes in contact with the real world. Is there an ethereal inner circle of humanity, guiding us all and helping the few that really need release from this circle of life and death? This story does not deny such a reality.

I was surprised at the depth of this movie, despite its cloying attempts to make us sympathize with the poor bird washed up on the raft of driftwood, freezing in the snow etc. The faux-innocence of Johnathan's dopey voice over makes me want to laugh, but I appreciate the idea and the difficult technical/creative work that went into making this unlikely feature film.

Interestingly 30 years ago SEAGULL ruffled some defensive feathers, challenging common notions of 'heaven' and 'faith' and our innate purpose. The 'mystical' is always a threat, reviled or ridiculed. Here in know-it-all 2005 people seem to think nothing of either faith or mysticism, content to blindly accept the illusions of their life in the Flock of humanity (note in the film the garbage dump the gulls cling to for their swill.) Yet some itch to look beyond, to know what really IS. "The Matrix has you, Neo..."

A good film for the restless seagull.

JK
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Jonathan Livingston Seagull
The Korean import and the American copy released by Paramount ARE complete. Perhaps the french copy did not know the running time, or there are extras in it. If you look up the VHS copy by Paramount it too was 95 minutes long. Not every seller gets a running time right. Case in point, the box... Read More
Aug 28, 2009 by Eric Pregosin |  See all 4 posts
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