Customer Reviews: Disneynature: The Crimson Wing - Mystery of Flamingos
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Have you ever been to the zoo and wondered how flamingos which were born white get that red/pink sheen? Have you ever wondered if flamingos can fly?

"The Crimson Wing: Mystery of the Flamingos" answers those questions that one have asked about flamingos in this British/French/American documentary directed by Matthew Aeberhard and Leander Ward. The film is also the first production of DisneyNature, the new studio which began in 2008 (and released their first film "Earth" in 2009).

The goal of the filmmakers was not to make your usual nature documentary but to create a film about the beginning of life of the flamingos in conjunction with a musical score.

The film documents the nature phenomenon that takes place in Lake Natron in northern Tanzania. The lake which is shallow is also unusual that the lakes are made poisonous due to volcanic activity and temperatures rise to 120 degrees Fahrenheit and the lake turns nearly blood red due to cyanobacteria (acqueous bacteria and beta carotene to be exact). But when the rains come, the lake is filled with water and the lake is filled with algae. And once a year, hundreds and thousands of white flamingos flock to Lake Natron in order to feed on the red cyanobacteria which then turns their bodies to pink. The more algae/cyanobacteria that the flamingos feed on, the redder they are, the redder/pinker they are indicates how healthy the flamingo is.

But the purpose of the flamingos flocking to Lake Natron is not just for feeding, it's when hundreds and thousands are looking to mate and within a months time, give birth to thousands of more flamingos but also undergo through survival as nature's elements, the salt-filled lake and the wild animals are lurking around, wanting to feast or create havoc on the flamingos as well.

"The Crimson Wing: Mystery of the Flamingos" gives us a perspective of the flamingos which many people are not familiar with and exposes us to the flamingo phenomenon at Lake Natron in which Matthew Aeberhard, Leander Ward and crew document the flamingos. From arrival, to birth and to the time these young flamingos grow up and are able to fly and leave the area, until they come back once again.


"The Crimson Wing: Mystery of the Flamingos" is presented in 1080p High Definition (1:85:1 aspect ratio). Picture quality for the film is quite beautiful on Blu-ray. From the overhead video of the area, at first we thought it was CG but we quickly learned that what we saw on film was algae deposits, sulfur and salt at Lake Natron.

Picture quality ranges from how close up the filmmakers were trying to capture the flamingos closeup as the closer they are, you do see the video looking a bit fuzzy and noise is quite evident. But for the most part, the flamingos pink and reds do look beautiful in HD, as do the sunsets and some outdoor scenes with the blue water, earthtones, browns and whites from volcanic scenery and greens which look vibrant as well.

I didn't see any compression, there is a little banding but for the most part, picture quality of "The Crimson Wing: Mystery of the Flamingos" was nicely done. Cinematographer Matthew Aeberhard did a really good job in capturing the flamingos, the wildlife and scenery of Lake Natron and its surroundings.


"The Crimson Wing: Mystery of the Flamingos" is presented in English 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio (48 kHz/24-bit), French and Spanish 5.1 Dolby Digital.

Narration and music courtesy of the Cinematic Orchestra were nicely done and come quite clearly through front and center channels. There is quite a bit of ambiance from the thousands of flamingos chirping and trying to flap its wings. Also, scenes which feature storms and waterfalls can be heard quite nicely through the surround channels.

Subtitles are in English SDH, French and Spanish subtitles.


"The Crimson Wing: Mystery of the Flamingos" features the following special features in 1080p High definition (1:33:1):

* Living Planet - An interactive feature which features a globe in which you can select destinations with your remote. Click on the various areas in several continents to learn real-time information of what is going on at several wildlife areas and also learn details about the film. You get the current date, time and temperature on the bottom right corner as well.
* Filmmaker Annotations - While watching "The Crimson Wing: Mystery of the Flamingos", you get a picture-and-picture video with the filmmakers discussing aspects of capturing the flamingos on film, filming in Natron and what their goals were before making the film to learning of the challenges they experienced and more. You also get text annotations on the bottom of the screen.
* Lake Nation Diaries: Behind the Crimson Wing - (19:42) The making of "The Crimson Wing: Mystery of the Flamingos". From cre"ating a base camp at a missionary house in Natron, capturing the mating, birth and life of the flamingos, filming at Lake Natron and how it's a geological phenomenon and creating the music for the film.
* The Crimson Wing Screensaver - (5:13) A video screensaver which is actually a music video of montage from "The Crimson Wing: Mystery of the Flamingos" set to the original score. The video repeats itself after completion.


"The Crimson Wing: Mystery of the Flamingos" comes with a DVD version of the feature film which is presented in 1:85:1, widescreen. Audio in English, French and Spanish 5.1 Dolby Digital Surround Sound and subtitles in English, English SDH and Spanish. Also, included is a slipover cover case.


I have to admit that flamingos have always been a curiosity of mine. They are mysterious I had the opportunity to watch them during the mating process and also to watch baby flamingos being raised at our local zoo.

"The Crimson Wing: Mystery of the Flamingos" was such an amazing film to watch because I have never known about the phenomenon at Lake Natron. Also, I was unaware of how flamingos turned red and that hundreds of thousands arrive just to mate and thousands give birth. Also, was unaware of how the salt deposits are literally the nesting grounds for the baby flamingos. It was quite fascinating to watch how these babies were born, especially how the babies were fed and without spoiling the film, needless to say, I was shocked by that. Definitely a much different perspective compared to a penguin or other birds featured in other nature-based documentaries.

But possibly the biggest shock was the threat to the flamingos by the Maribou storks. These storks are just the ugliest birds I have seen and the way they are portrayed in the film is rather villainous. We watch as these storks prey on the small chicks, just snapping its neck with their beaks and leaving them to fall and die and go back to them later. They go up to the nest and crack open the shells and leave. Almost like nature's bullies, they are their to prey on the defenseless flamingos (I was expecting the flamingos as a herd to fight back but I am guessing that they are not a defensive bird at all).

But I was amazed to see how also the salt also affects the baby flamingos as during birth when they are with the parent, when the parent leaves to get food, the babies are left alone and wander around the sodium rich lakes and some unfortunately have excess salt deposits around their legs that these salt deposits start to become like cement and render the birds unmovable that they die.

This is the way of nature and how it's been probably for however long these flamingos have lived on the planet. But at the same time, although the film never gets into the politics of how humans are affecting their habitat (until right before the final credits), the truth is that because these lakes are full of sodium, companies are looking at the lake as a way to profit to make soap, medical and glass products and of course, we have those who are trying to defend the bird's habitats and humans from destroying them and those who just want to make money from the sodium deposits and are threatening the habitat of the flamingos.

"The Crimson Wing: Mystery of the Flamingos" is fascinating, entertaining and enjoyable. On Blu-ray, the film looks absolutely great in HD and also, surround sound was well-incorporated to its lossless soundtrack. And the musical score by the Cinematic Orchestra was wonderful.

But I have to say that as much as I enjoyed the film, like many nature films which showcase animals in the wild, we know that life is changing for these animals. Population increases are driving these animals from their home and nearly driving various species to become extinct and in the flamingo's case, you take away the sodium which is needed for the birth of these flamingos and you literally are decreasing their population. And already, we have learned that flamingos are disappearing in other regions where they once had flocked to by the hundreds of thousands.

"The Crimson Wing: Mystery of the Flamingos" is a fantastic nature film and I'm so happy to see DisneyNature focusing on a certain animal vs. many different species, because the film really gave us tremendous insight on flamingos. The film does try to incorporate a storyline of a young flamingo who tries to survive from birth to becoming a full-fledged flamingo but with literally thousands of birds that look the same, it's kind of hard to believe that the viewer is watching the same bird over the course of however long the filmmakers were at Lake Natron.

But the story of the one flamingo is not a major part of the entire film, the film is more about the flamingos who come to Lake Natron, to mate, give birth, showing how these little flamingos survive (and die) and what challenges await them in the wild. Once again, this is a fascinating nature film.

Overall, if you are a nature fan especially if you have an interest in flamingos, DisneyNature's "The Crimson Wing: Mystery of the Flamingos" is definitely a film worth watching and also owning on Blu-ray. Definitely recommended!
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on March 25, 2013
There were a number of things in this DVD that I liked. The photography is great, even amazing. It was interesting to learn about these birds.

What I did not like. I did not care for the voice of the narrator. That, of course, is just my opinion. I would have liked the DVD to more of a documentary and explain things a little more. What I really did not like was the over emphasis on the baby birds dying. Yes, I know birds die and I know predators eat them, but the DVD seemed to focus on this too often and for a prolonged time. To see a predator swoop a baby away would be enough to get the idea. Do we really need to see the baby struggle and die. Then a few it just has shots of dead birds. I have watched many nature movies and this sort of preoccupation with death is not necessary.

Anyway, I am not sorry that we watched this in our homeschool, but we will pass this on and not watch it again. Please be careful if you plan to show this to really young children for the reason mentioned above.
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on August 31, 2012
I certainly didn't before just watching this documentary.

A few observations -

(1) Very Un-Disneynature like when compared to Chimpanzee and African Cats. There were no cheesy scripts or cliche story lines. This was a straight-up old school solid nature documentary.

(2) The visuals were of course stunning (- like all Disneynature films). The action focuses on Lake Natron in Tanzania because this is where the vast majority of Lesser Flamingos come to breed. These flamingos while most numerous population wise among various flamingo species is classified as Near Threatened due to the fact that there breeding sites are too few, and all are presently threatened by human development.

(3) A few tough moments that made this guy tear up. (Not going to give anything away don't worry.) That said, these scenes should not dissuade you or your kids from watching this movie.

In summary, I learned a whole lot about a species I knew almost nothing about before. I found this movie highly educational as well as highly entertaining. I also think this may have just become my favorite Disneynature film too date, and I hope that future documentaries follow in this style instead of creating contrived story lines like Chimpanzee.
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on September 10, 2015
I bought this documentary because I love flamingos and wanted to know more about them. Sadly, this is an incomplete account of these majestic birds, bringing up more questions than they bother to answer, never mind address in the first place. This film almost documents the lives of the "lesser flamingos" on Lake Natron in northern Tanzania. It takes us through a season with them, glossing over the mating habits and rushing into the nesting and subsequent arrival of the cute and cuddly chicks who soon fall prey to salt shackles about their legs, when they're not busy trying to avoid becoming a meal for the marabou storks and/or hyenas. Nothing is said or shown about their migration patterns, nor does this film address the four species of flamingos that reside in the Americans or the two species in Afro-Eurasia. What this film does boast is fantastic cinematography and the natural charisma of these eerie but beautiful birds. It does get a little gloomy when it mentions the hundreds of baby birds doomed to die in this vast wasteland. The coldblooded narration is decidedly detached, discounting the lives lost in a matter-of-fact manner. This film also strays from time to time, distracted by filler images of the lake, fish, bugs, baboons............. I thought this was supposed to be a documentary about flamingos (?).

The first half is better than the last with it's close-ups of babies becoming food to feed others and the parents who don't put up much of a fight to stop this from happening.
Still, it's filmed well!
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It's understandable why Disney chose not to release Crimson Wing to theatres. It is less general and lacks the political vigor of Earth and Oceans - but it is by no means less magnificent. In contrast to the other DisneyNature releases, this documentary really allowed time for an in-depth and thorough understanding of the remarkable Flamingo. No matter how much you thought you knew about the amazing pink bird, you will learn something from watching this. I consider myself a pretty big nature geek and know all kinds of trivial facts about wildlife, but the story of these African flamingos and the "salt island" in which they birth their young was all new to me and positively gorgeous visually and in narrative.

As for the Blu Ray quality, of course it is superb. Disney doesn't usually make mistakes in that regard, and fans of 1080p definition should never be more excited. Color is obviously a big part of the flamingo story and you get bet every drop of pink will be a celebration for your TV screen. Every splash of water and every flap of a wing.. every egg shell and every cloud is a breath taking sight to behold so that I could easily see this BD being in heavy rotation, as a screen saver if nothing else.

Overall, I think it's safe to say that fans of DisneyNature's past documentaries or nature films in general will be exstatic about this release. It may lack the variety of Earth and Oceans, but it is by far more focused and unique to any other nature film I've yet seen. There were times, I admit, where the scenes started to feel a little long (perhaps as a means of increasing the run time) but they were still absolutely stunning to watch and for nature fanatics that is worth it alone.
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on March 14, 2016
I love Disney Nature documentaries! Of course there were some super sad parts in it, but thats the truth of the animal kingdom. The colors were brilliant, the story was amazing and its a must see. You'd never realize how amazing these birds are until you learn their story.
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on August 11, 2012
The visuals are stunning and very unique; as you would expect. However, I have small children who are very sensitive to death and animals falling prey to the elements and predators. Be advised, about 15-20 minutes of this movie focuses on the baby flamingos falling prey to the elements, storks, mongoose, and then to wild dogs. More than once, you see storks snapping the necks of baby flamingos. Sometimes they immediately eat the chick, while most times they leave them to die and come back later to feast. Your children will see this up close and then see the babies, with broken necks, struggling on the ground trying to survive. Despite our best efforts to cover our kids eyes, they were both in tears. So, now the video sits on our shelf until we feel our kids are ready for such content. I wish Disney had kept it more family oriented so younger kids can enjoy it too.
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on January 20, 2015
Flamingos have always been this abstract caricature of a bird in my mind--their uniqueness obscured by images and toys and lawn decor. 'Crimson Wing' brought these incredibly fascinating animals to vibrant and mesmerizing life. There are documentaries out there that are more detailed and exact regarding this order of bird, but I would say 'Crimson Wing' is more of a song or sonnet about the Lesser Flamingo and it's symbiotic relationship with Lake Natron. The narrator is plentiful with her elegant metaphors and poetic phrasing whilst keeping faithful to the more gory aspects of life & death.

I have to confess that I purchased the import CD soundtrack by The Cinematic Orchestra years before I saw this film as I am a fan of this group. I regret not watching the film sooner. I had tears in my eyes during the opening credits because the beauty of the music and cinematography had a profound effect on my heart . I would say this soundtrack is in my top 20 of all time favorite albums.

I did not give the 'Crimson Wing' a full five stars because it left so many of my questions unanswered, the artistic direction was at times too fanciful, and in the last 20 minutes of the film the narrator kept leading me to false endings which I found irritating.
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VINE VOICEon October 22, 2010
Crimson Wing is more of an epic poem on film than a documentary. The images are often surprisingly abstract -- like visual puzzles that disorient the eye before revealing what they are. In one sequence, for example, the flamingos glide over a lake surface so calm you can't tell where the birds are until the ripples appear.

The narrator of Crimson Wing is Mariella Frostrup, well-known to BBC watchers and listeners. To me, her narrator conjured up memories of the original Living Seas film at Epcot ("And it rained, and rained and rained...the deluge"). The whole film has that quality. So if you're a vintage Epcot fan, you'll get a kick out of Crimson Wing in a way that the filmmakers never intended, I'm sure.

Crimson Wing takes the viewer out of the everyday and to a larger plane of existence, a bigger picture, as it were, of our existence and that of the creatures around us. It can't hurt to be reminded that there's a lot more to the world.
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on April 26, 2015
The cinematography of this film was absolutely majestic! It was so well done. Many scenes were utterly breathtaking. One scene about 7 minutes in showed flamingos gliding over water with tremendous grace juxtaposed with flawless precision in a way that was made doubly beautiful by their mirror reflections as they did so over water. Each lowering of their wings formed an "O" shape when combined with its watery reflection, and with each wing flap the flock of flamingos made a row of disappearing and reemerging O's that was pure bliss to watch. Again, I can't say enough about the amazing the cinematography in this film. It was the best I've ever seen in a nature movie (or any movie), and I have watched just about every nature film out there. The one caveat is that I would not recommend this film to young audiences due to several scenes where young flamingos are struggling and slowly dying due to getting stuck in the mud/salt. Otherwise, this movie was perfection.
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