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The Natural History of the Chicken

160 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

Most people best know the chicken from their dinner plates -- whether as thigh, wing or drumstick. Consumers barely pause a moment to consider the bird's many virtues. Filmmaker Mark Lewis (Cane Toads: An Unnatural History and Rat) expands the frontiers of popular awareness and delightfully reveals that this small, common and seemingly simple animal is as complex and grand as any of Earth's creatures.

From the Back Cover

Most of us best know the chicken from our dinner plates. Whether as thigh, wing or drumstick, we barely pause a moment to consider the bird's many virtues. This program expands the frontiers of popular awareness and delightfully reveals that this small, common and seemingly simple animal is as complex and grand as any of God's creatures. The stories are illustrated with narrative vignettes depicting these birds at their magical best, inspiring fascination and gentle humor. The film allows us to rethink our relationship with a creature we have previously take for granted, while at the same time providing a lens through which we look at ourselves. It is the "natural history" for an animal like no other.

Special Features

None.

Product Details

  • Actors: Janet Bonney, Johnnie L. Cochran Jr., Karin Estrada, David Forrester, Clyde Gore
  • Directors: Mark Lewis
  • Writers: Mark Lewis
  • Producers: Mark Lewis, Brian Donegan, Greg Diefenbach, Julieann Galdames, Ron Devillier
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Color, NTSC
  • Language: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: NR (Not Rated)
  • Studio: PBS
  • DVD Release Date: November 18, 2003
  • Run Time: 60 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (160 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B0000TPAR4
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #87,537 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "The Natural History of the Chicken" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

37 of 38 people found the following review helpful By ChickenGrrl on July 12, 2001
Format: VHS Tape Verified Purchase
I caught this film at the USA Film Festival in Dallas last year, thinking it would be a fun way to spend an hour or so. (As you may be able to surmise by my online name, I have something of a thing for chickens.) Little did I know what was in store for me and my companions. The stories are charming, some even downright silly, and I learned way more about chickens than I ever thought I would.
I loved the story of the lady who gave her chicken mouth-to-beak resuscitation after it got lost in a blizzard, garnering national attention for them both. Then there's the story of Cotton, the pet rooster of a woman even more eccentric than I. This pampered chick has his own special seat in the car so that he may ride around with his owner, who dresses him in diapers (guess chickens can't be house-trained!) and washes and blow-dries him daily, after they swim laps in her pool. He also loves to watch TV with his human. (Apparently chickens have vision similar to ours, and also enjoy all kinds of music!) There's also a story about a rural neighborhood where a man who raised fighting cocks moved in, and all hell broke loose because of the noise the roosters made. I also learned from Mike ("Miracle Mike") that chickens can indeed live a very long time without a head! And a pastor tells his moving story about a tiny hen he owned who defended her chicks against a marauding raptor. This little film may also make you change the way you think about eating poultry (I was already a vegetarian), showing the horrors to which chickens are subjected before being slaughtered for consumption.
Director Mark Lewis' tongue is firmly planted in his cheek with some of these stories, treading a fine line between mocking/deriding his subjects, and gazing upon them with pure affection. This film is truly a celebration of chickens, and the people who love them.
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27 of 31 people found the following review helpful By yygsgsdrassil on January 11, 2005
Format: VHS Tape
....the Unnatural History of Man.

If the story about the frozen chicken brought back to life with CPR doesn't get you, or the one about the headless chicken or the one in which an entire country community responds to the torrent of Bantam rooster crowing, maybe the one in which the lady shows how she puts the Depends on her pet chick or the story of how the mamma chicken saves her brood from the hawk ('I would be proud to be called chicken.') will. These are tales told with a deadpan and a tongue in cheek ala PBS's Rare Visions show. Something here will have you chuckling...or clucking....and putting a big smile on your face. If, however, you feel the need to sit on a few eggs, I suggest you seek a therapist.
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28 of 33 people found the following review helpful By DakotaMDM on November 3, 2003
Format: VHS Tape
I can't believe how utterly stunned I am. Rarely does a television show leave me so dumbfounded as the documentary I just watched. Thank god I taped it, because I had to watch it twice.
It was on PBS and called, "The Natural History of the Chicken." Still being in a sense of awe, I�m not even sure what to say about it, but here goes.
There�s a woman in Florida who proudly skinny-dips with her rooster/significant other Cotton every morning. She takes him with her everywhere she goes. She�s got a special little car-seat that allows him to look out the window as they drive around town running errands. He eats the same foods this woman eats and even shares a bed with her. She has him wear little �panties� around the house to prevent him from � well, you know. As I�m typing this, they�re grocery shopping together since Cotton eats the same things she eats (just not as much I guess).
Ok, now they cut to McDonalds where the Florida lady and Cotton are enjoying a �Big-Mac.� (I believe this proves I really don�t have a life. It�s Saturday night and I�m mesmerized by watching a chicken eating a hamburger.)
Now, when this woman leaves for work in the morning she leaves on the television tuned to Cotton�s favorite programs, usually classical music. He also seems to be partial to opera and is a big fan of Pavarotti.
She shared a �poem� she wrote about Cotton:
My Cotton Rooster
Each day the beautiful, white rooster called Cotton arises crowing.
He has such love and happiness.
He has such a joy exuding from his whole beautiful being.
I never even knew a human that was filled with so much love and joy, so great to greet me each morning.
Then they spend quite some time talking about this chicken that lives for several weeks after it had been be-headed.
Read more ›
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25 of 29 people found the following review helpful By tjcrewsbooks on September 13, 2004
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
This is a great program for people who just don't know chickens.
The program comes across as a bit anthropomorphic, but it is a very sensitive, very enlightening, very engrossing, insightful look into the life of a fellow creature we too often take for granted. Chickens tend to be under-appreciated considering the numbers of them it takes to feed us. Eggs, McNuggets, buffalo wings, Teriyaki, chow mein, etc.

There are several people in this program who are clearly absorbed with the Nature of the Chicken. They dearly LOVE chickens--but they are people who probably love cats, dogs, kids, and other people, too.
Chickens seem much more special after watching this program.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Martian on July 9, 2005
Format: DVD
Not a comprehensive view of chickens, but if you're looking for a little less on the information and more on the entertainment, this is it. I love this movie! It reminds me of Best in Show in the way it was filmed and the intriguing people and will give you a whole new perspective on chickens.
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