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VINE VOICEon November 8, 2011
Saw the first half of this program at a Nature 30th Anniversary celebration here in NYC and can recommend it based on what I saw. Mr. Hutto hatched 16 wild turkey poults from eggs he received and purposefully imprinted them as their mother, then spent over a year playing mother (turkey) hen to them from before dawn to full dark every day to the exclusion of all else in the deep woods in northern Florida. His book about this experience, Illumination in the Flatwoods: A Season with the Wild Turkey, was discovered by a British producer and RECREATED on film with an actor playing Mr. Hutto's part (who looks like Mr. Hutto) on a ranch in a different part of Florida. The overvoice speaks Hutto's descriptive words. The actor onscreen does not talk much, but occasionally makes turkey sounds as he learns the turkey lexicon. There is nothing fake about the recreation, least of all the young turkeys, and you cannot TELL it is a recreation, period. The cinematography is stunning and the story will captivate you. (You will understand why Ben Franklin wanted the turkey, not the eagle, to be the national bird!)

My own experience with a family of wild turkeys in South Dakota had already convinced me of a lot of behavior confirmed by this program. When I stopped my car near them at the side of the road, the family dashed through a hedge and up a hill towards the woods, except for one poult who missed his cue and got separated. He was running in a circle peeping his head off on my side of the hedge. Meanwhile the family waited on the hillside and called to him over and over. Eventually the poult dashed through the hedge and rejoined the family, and they fled into the woods together. When I described this behavior to Mr. Hutto he confirmed it as well as the type of peeps a poult would make under these circumstances.
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on November 18, 2011
I'd like to reiterate that this film was not a documentary but a re-creation of events that took place in the late 1990s.

The photography was so beautiful and misty, that I was puzzled about how they were able to get such incredible shots until I did research and found out how they made the film.

And as incredible a story as it is, what is also equally remarkable is that wildlife photographer Jeff Palmer--the "actor" they used to portray wildlife artist/naturalist Joe Hutto--was also given a cache of eggs, and the hatchlings imprinted on him...and the filmmakers then followed the re-created, yet real-life growth and relationship that developed with Jeff Palmer as Joe Hutto. So, you see? This was not just a one-time thing that happened to Joe Hutto...this is something that can be created again and again with turkeys--and doubtless, other animals. Proof of a strange, magical interconnectedness of all animal species.

I was so moved by this film and the obvious consciousness and sentience of the turkeys and the way they communicated not just with Jeff Palmer/Joe Hutto--but with each other and the other animals of the forest. Hearing their myriad and specific vocalizations, seeing their ability to learn and their pointed curiosity--was mind-blowing to me. Watching them puzzle over the remains of a dead turkey was like watching elephants hover their feet over bones in an elephant graveyard. I couldn't get over how, well...HUMAN they seemed.

I am not a vegetarian, but after watching this film I don't think I'm too far off from never eating turkey again. The vegetarians always say don't eat anything with a mother or a face, and after looking into the faces and eyes of the turkeys portrayed in this film, to kill and eat them to me would feel like killing and eating my beloved cats. That last remark may sound extreme, but that's how wonderful a job the filmmakers did in re-creating Joe Hutto's experience.

In spite of some sad, brief scenes, there is no real blood or scary violence, and I highly recommend this film to people of all ages, from 9 on up.
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on November 17, 2011
I was glued to this film, and enjoyed its stunning cinemagraphy and editing. The basic vibe is of awe and cosmic humor, wonder, and goodness in spite of it we see a re-enactment , brilliantly filmed , of an experience of one person's quest for enlightenment, via his adopted family of wild turkeys......and we get to know
some of them....Swee-pea, Turkey-Boy, and we care.....and it is see Joe Hutto's "children", soon grow, thrive, and eventually, outgrow their odd relationship with Joe, and ultimately, their natural wild behaviour. It is revealed towards the end, that all the communication, relationship bond, was perhaps a fortunate,or un-fortunate, temporary the turkey dna clicks in and reminds them they ARE WILD, and the results are both sad and wonderfull, and very heartfelt......but filmed with respect and magic, for both , the wild turkeys, and their adoptive parent. This is truly a special informative, and entertaining filmed account of our universal quest for meaning, love, understanding, everything else. I think this documentary is just one of a very few about wild turkeys, and is a marvel to behold!
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on November 17, 2011
What a wonderful, moving story of a man truly communing with nature. I loved how he instantly knew he was to be the mother of these little turkeys as soon as they hatched, and he dedicated his life to the turkeys for as long as they needed him. I was amazed at how the turkeys seemed to have a group concencus about when it was time to roost, leave the coop, and move on. For an even fuller picture of this story, read the book "Illumination in the Flatwoods". You'll love it!
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on November 18, 2011
This is sort of a real life "Fly Away Home" in which newly-hatched turkeys, rather than geese, imprint on a human, in this case a wildlife artist named Joe Hutto. Actually, one interesting thing about the baby turkeys (called poults) was that they started communicating with Joe Hutto FROM INSIDE THEIR EGGS. The film is relatively short, which I appreciated, because the excellent editing meant that each scene was truly engaging and packed with fascinating information about these phenomenally intelligent and impressive birds. As in "The Wild Parrots Of Telegraph Hill," the bird-human bond becomes a major theme of the film and Hutto's relationships with a couple of the more human-oriented birds is as moving as anything I've seen along these lines. the scenery in this particular area is also very beautiful and the camera work captures it brilliantly. I really couldn't ask for more in a wildlife film. Anyone who watches this will surely never use the word "turkey" as a pejorative again.
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on September 24, 2011
Imagine that you can see the world as a bobcat sees it, or a deer. Professional naturalist Joe Hutto didn't imagine it, he lived it for a year with a flock of wild turkeys in north Florida, and they opened his eyes and heart to a new way to see the woodlands that he thought he knew so well. This film recreates his incredible experience and captures his insights with exquisite photography and thoughtful narrative. Once you see the video, you'll want to read the book. Illumination in the Flatwoods: A Season with the Wild Turkey
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on November 17, 2011
I'm also an artist and share Mr. Hutto's fascination with the wild turkey. Unfortunately my encounters with the world of turkeys have been too brief - sightings here and there while on hikes or driving through the countryside. Because of that I was really looking forward to viewing this program, and I'm so glad I did!

This is an amazing story and extremely well done. The cinematography is stunning, but the story is even better. I already knew that turkeys were pretty darn intelligent birds, but I had no idea of their innate intelligence...I had guessed that their behavior (including vocalizations) was learned from their parents. Not so - according to what Mr Hutto experienced, these birds are born/hatched with a wealth of knowledge already inside of them, from predator identification, to knowing what to eat and what to avoid, and something akin to a language (specific vocalizations that mean specific things).

This is a wonderful view of wild turkeys from someone who found a rare opportunity to step inside of their world and had the humility to observe and learn with an open mind.
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on November 17, 2011
This is a touching movie.

Hutto reveals how Turkey's and Nature can teach us true Love and Peace by being "present" in the moment.

You'll never eat another Turkey without thinking of "Sweet Pea"!
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on November 17, 2011
Simply amazing. If you have any affinity for birds or wildlife you will be entranced, as was our whole family as we watched this.
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on November 17, 2011
This is an amazing demonstration of the value of imprintation for understanding another species' personality, language, culture and much more. Hutto has broken new ground.
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