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329 of 344 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Winged Victory
My ex-wife could never understand why I (the original couch potato) could never get enough of nature shows on TV. It was rather difficult to explain how fascinating I found the natural world, especially from the comfort of my own living room. And admittedly, some of those WILD KINGDOM episodes were kind of hokey. (I remember how betrayed I felt when I found out that...
Published on August 2, 2003 by Gregor von Kallahann

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109 of 140 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A beautiful fraud
Ahhh... Now it is clear to me why, despite having adored this film when I saw it on the big screen last spring, I was unable to write a review of it, until now. The reason is, sadly, that the film is a fake. A skillful, mesmerizing fraud, but a fraud nonetheless. In the theatre, we all thought, "oh! how did they get that shot!" and "wow -- I never knew birds did that!"...
Published on January 4, 2004 by DJ Joe Sixpack


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329 of 344 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Winged Victory, August 2, 2003
My ex-wife could never understand why I (the original couch potato) could never get enough of nature shows on TV. It was rather difficult to explain how fascinating I found the natural world, especially from the comfort of my own living room. And admittedly, some of those WILD KINGDOM episodes were kind of hokey. (I remember how betrayed I felt when I found out that Jim and Marlin had staged most of the good scenes and hadn't actually ventured to the wilds of Africa or the Amazon. Maybe they were just couch potatoes at heart too.)
But French filmmaker, Jacques Perrin and crew are certainly the real deal. This breathtaking documentary is one that I would unqualifiedly recommend--to just about anyone. Even my "ex" called recently to let me know that this film had left her in tears. I found it equally moving, and plainly I wasn't alone. In fact, when I saw it the whole theater burst into applause at the end.
As others have noted, the camera work on this film is awe inspiring. I have seen a few television docs with this kind of upclose footage before (I think maybe the EYEWITNESS series?), but none have sustained the effect for very long, and most don't pack the emotional wallop of this film.
Between this film and the recent SPELLBOUND, I can see an expanding market for documentaries--at least the more unique and captivating ones. A great film for family viewing, although younger children may be upset by the depiction of some of nature's (and mankind's) harsher realities. Otherwise, a true must-see in a sea of only purported must-sees.
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165 of 172 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Birds in flight -- in all their power and glory. Fantastic!, May 30, 2003
This 2001 award-winning documentary by Jacques Perrin certainly is unique. It's a full 99 minutes of exquisite cinematography of migrating birds, some species flying as far as 12,500 miles each year. There are a few captions, which tell the name of the bird and the amount of mileage they fly in order to migrate. There's also some light background music as well as natural sounds, and a few sentences, spoken by the director. Other than that, it's only the birds, whose migratory patterns were followed for three years.
At the beginning of the film there's a disclaimer informing the audience that there were no special effects were used. And so I sat there in wonder of how they were able to achieve all their shots. There's the beauty of birds flying in formation, close up shots of them feeding their young, competing with each other, stopping to rest. And there's one magnificent shot of fleeing an avalanche.
There are different species filmed in different areas of the world. We see the Artic Circle, the American Southwest, the industrial areas of Eastern Europe, the vast oceans, the skyline of cities and even a shot as they fly past the World Trade Center and the Statue of Liberty. We also see hunters whose gunfire brings sudden death as well as a bird with a broken wing who is attacked and devoured by crabs.
Here is nature, in all its power and glory. I sat there wide-eyed, taking it all in. And somehow, the petty concerns of my daily life seemed to fall into perspective.
Some people might find this film boring and I doubt if it will get wide distribution in theaters. It's only playing in one theater in New York and, even in this densely populated city, there was a very sparse audience. I'm glad I was one of the people in that audience though because I loved every moment of the film would definitely see it again on DVD, especially if it had special features to describe how the cinematography was done.
Highly recommended.
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63 of 64 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Sublime cinematography, March 27, 2003
WINGED MIGRATION is filmmaker Jacques Perrin's stunning documentary study of bird migration. My wife and I left the special studio screening exclaiming, "How'd they do that!?"
The film begins along a minor waterway in Europe as a flock of geese begins its annual migration north to its summer breeding ground. It then cuts to other locales around the world as other species of large birds - usually cranes, swans, and storks, but also gannets, loons and others - begin their respective journeys. In all cases, the captioning identifies the species, their start points and destinations, and the miles between the two. Occasionally, Perrin makes the point more spectacularly by superimposing the flying flock on an image of the Earth taken from near-orbit. Voice overs are kept to a minimum.
Except for New York (with the WTC still standing), Paris, and a dismal industrial wasteland in eastern Europe, the flocks are shown flying through unpopulated landscapes both varied and magnificent: beaches, ice fields, Monument Valley, northern tundra, open oceans, snow-covered mountains, Asian farmlands, forest-enclosed lakes, deserts, and tropical rainforests. The sunset and weather (blizzards, fog, thunderstorms) provide dramatic backdrops. Then, at journey's end, the birds are shown in their summer habitats - usually steep, dramatic cliffs or rock-strewn shores with sea-ravaged margins.
But certainly the most eye-popping camera work is with the bird formations on the wing. The apparent vantage point of the lens is among the flock, with individual birds only an arm or hand-length away above, below, or to the side. I mean, you're RIGHT THERE! You'd think they'd have to be computer animated models. But a disclaimer at the film's beginning states that no special effects were used in the filming of the birds.
While Perrin emphasizes the round trip to, and the stay in, the breeding grounds, he doesn't gloss over the dangers. The viewer watches as individual birds fall victim to animal predators, human hunters and poachers, and industrial pollution. Some circumstances are heartrending, as when a disabled bird is surrounded and overcome by predatory crabs on an African beach.
Before concluding back at the same waterway and with the same flock of geese which began his documentary, the filmmaker makes a digression at first seemingly inconsistent with the title, i.e. with flightless Emperor penguins in the southern hemisphere. Of course, they use their wings to swim a couple hundred miles.
WINGED MIGRATION is a film to remind us that the real world can be just as spectacular and amazing as any one of the mega-budget, FX-laden, mindless thrillers dished out to the masses. It's wonderful.
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33 of 34 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Missing Features Information for 2005 Repackaged Edition, December 23, 2005
By 
V. Wong (Vancouver, BC, Canada) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Winged Migration (DVD)
This review won't help you if you're deciding whether or not to get Winged Migration, but if you've already decided to buy the movie and you are trying to figure out which edition to purchase (there are at least two available on Amazon.com), this should prove helpful.

When I ordered Winged Migration, I was worried that the repackaged edition wouldn't have the same features as the original release - the Special Features information for this release was not available anywhere online. Thankfully, I took a chance and my fears were assuaged upon arrival.

This repackaged version with the 3-picture-band cover appears to have the same special features as the original release, such as the 'Making-of' documentary featurette, the full-length Director's Commentary, a featurette on 'Creating the Music', a 'Photo Gallery with Filmmaker Commentary', Interviews, Bonus Trailers, Animated Menus, Scene Selections, and Weblink. The only difference, as best I can tell, is the cover/packaging... and the reduced price.
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24 of 25 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fly Away Home: Astonishing Documentary on Migratory Birds, April 19, 2003
By 
Tsuyoshi (Kyoto, Japan) - See all my reviews
[The following review is based on the version released in Japan, which runs 99 minutes.]
Director of this Oscar-nominated documentary "The Travelling Birds" aka "Winged Migration" is Jacque Perrin, perhaps best remembered for his role in "Cinema Paradisso" (as adult Salvatore), but he is also a producer whose works include "Himalaya" and "Microcomos," and he now again delivers an astonishing film about the migratory birds. If you like beautiful photography, don't miss it.
The film, shot over the time of three years, is about the migratory birds -- cranes, swans, and so on, even penguins (yes, some of them travel more than 500 miles) -- but do not be mistaken. The narration is limited to the minimum amount, and the film does not tell much about the birds' habits, or reasons for or the ways of traveling. The strength of the film solely lies in its visuals, which, as other reviewer says, would make you wonder "How did they do it?"
Yes, the camera follows as close as possible to the FLYING birds, very near to their side, or even to their tails, so you can watch the wings beating the air or the slight movements of feathers. The camera work is simply incredible, tracing the birds over the stormy sea or the snow-covered wilderness, and it captures the lively features of these birds that fly so powerfully and gracefully.
But some parts of the film, though not explicitly, shows the perils of their long travel that ranges more than thousand miles. The film reveals plights of birds, sometimes deaths, in a very understated way. The beauty of the film does not hide the reality of their travel, which are in fact very dangerous.
According to the material I bought at a multiplex in Japan, the camera crew too had to fly to chase the flying birds, using the light-weight plane to get closer to them. If you have seen Anna Paquin's 1996 film "Fly Away Home," you may remember a small airplane she rode, with a triangular wing over the saddle and a propeller at the back of it. So, the filmmakers were also risking their lives.
Beautiful as the film is, you may feel a little weary after seeing many shots of these birds, for the film intentionally avoids introducing a story in it. Instead of that, the film let the birds show their lives as much as they can. Sometimes they are humorous, sometime painful, but always beautiful, and that is the greatest merit of the film.
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15 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Observation and Introspect, September 19, 2003
By 
LizKauai (Waimea, HI United States) - See all my reviews
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I believe we are all in agreement that this film is a tour de force of stunning cinematography, exhilirating imagery, wing-pumping, heart thumping sound and appropriately supportive score. What strikes me most of all, however, is the way I felt about what we humans must do to better care for our earth so that the cycles of life (vividly and empathetically revealed here) may continue. I thank the filmmakers for allowing the painful scenes to last just long enough to make their points and let us stay focused on the empathy side. What a wonderful world we could have if those in control of the news media and governments would take the same approach and homan beings could live lives focused on the creative work at hand, alert, yet unafraid of ambiguous situations, and well-prepared to raise future generations in the same way. This film leaves much for the imaginative mind to ponder.
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15 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars great film/documentary, December 20, 2003
This review is from: Winged Migration (Special Edition) (DVD)
I watched this dvd knowing little about it, and i must say it is a gem. It really opened my eyes about the capacity for emotion and life that migrating birds share with one another. Some scenes in the film are staged (this is no secret and is talked about in the special features)like the hurt bird and crabs (bird was really hurt but the film crew did not allow it's demise)and the escape of the maccaw (very smart birds but no poacher would store them in wooden cages with only a latch). All in all I laughed, i cried (well not really but some parts get a little sad...HUNTERS.....SEWAGE...YUCK)and overall found a new respect for our feathered friends. I reccommend anyone who wonders about the life of a bird watch this film.
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21 of 23 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Life-affirming film, December 14, 2003
A Kid's Review
This review is from: Winged Migration (Special Edition) (DVD)
This film is a stunningly beautiful masterpiece filled with breathtaking cinematography. The four years of work that went into making it shows during every second of the film. Jacques Perrin and the people he worked with have created a piece of work that is in essence a spectacular gift to the world. Watching birds of various kinds fly gracefully through the air seemingly without any effort is a sight to behold. You feel privileged to be able to glimpse this magical world in which the birds inhabit. Also a treat is watching what the birds do when they are not flying, whether it is Clark's grebes dancing on the surface of a lake or male sage grouse strutting their stuff by inflating their throat sacs and creating weird noises with them or gannets plunge-diving into the ocean to catch fish. The scene involving the sage grouse is quite stunning. At the beginning of the scene, you see sage grouse on a partially snow-covered grassland in Idaho. In the background, you see several flocks of migrating birds flying against a backdrop of mountains. Some of the aerial shots of birds flying are so beautiful that they appear unreal. It is as if a skilled artist had painted the landscapes. There are numerous scenes of flying birds that will take your breath away. I will mention three. The footage of Canada geese flying throught Monument Valley, Utah, is gorgeous. The rock formations provide a breathtakingly beautiful backdrop for the shots of the birds. The footage of trumpeter swans flying over a river in a Southeast Asian rainforest on their way to Vietnam is also incredibly beautiful. When they arrive in the paddy fields of northern Vietnam by flying past a landscape of green dotted with majestic rock formations, your breath is taken away by the beauty that you see onscreen. The footage of the white storks flying over the sand dunes of the Sahara Desert is so incredible that it appears fake. You really have to see it to believe it. There is also a magical shot of the Great Wall of China on a foggy day. It looks so incredible that you may actually think that a master Chinese painter had painted what you see onscreen.
I do have several gripes with the film. First of all, the selection of birds that were shown in the film had a glaring omission. I only noticed one scene showing ducks in full flight. This was the scene of a single male Mallard duck flying through the French countryside and eventually joining a flock of geese over the river Seine in Paris. Why weren't more ducks showcased in the film? Second, the scene where a mother bobwhite quail is nesting in the path of moving farm combines is an unnecessary addition to the film. Third, the scene of the Canada geese drinking water from a broken-down truck is unique, but in my opinion, out of place with the rest of the film. Also, the scene involving the same geese flying over a herd of running mustangs is so fake that its inclusion in the film is almost embarrassing. What is such a shot doing in a film that claims to have no special effects?
This DVD of the film is amazing. The picture quality is stunning. The transfer is amazingly clear. The sound quality is rich and clear. Several extras are included. They are well worth viewing. The Behind-the-Scenes featurette is a pleasure to watch. It explains very well the process that was used in filming the birds and all the effort that went into making the film. We learn that the white pelicans became sick during the airplane flight from France to Senegal. We also learn that the footage of the film showing snow geese flying through snowy weather in the Adirondacks in New York State was improvised when bad weather conditions forced the film crew to abandon a staged scene of geese hunting. Watching the cute baby birds at the beginning of the featurette, especially when they are running with ultralight planes on the ground, is an absolute delight. In one shot, you can see that baby white storks demonstrate the same weird neck-bending, beak-clapping behavior as adult white storks. The narrator of the featurette makes a few mistakes. He pronounces "Adirondacks" as "A-DIR-on-dacks" instead of "A-dir-ON-dacks". The last part of the featurette is about the filming of white storks flying over the Sahara Desert. The narrator mistakenly refers to the storks as "swans" at least twice.
I highly recommend the film and its DVD. Your view of birds will be forever changed by watching this film. Anyone who has had a chance to watch this film has been incredibly lucky. As you know, the film only received limited theatrical release in the US. Sony released the film in American theaters only in the summer of 2003. This was months after it was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Documentary. This makes absolutely no sense. Also, Sony did a huge disservice to the film by not running any ads on American TV for it. The people who run Sony should be ashamed of themselves.
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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Breathtaking & joyful, troubling & moving. Extraordinary!, October 16, 2003
This review is from: Winged Migration (Special Edition) (DVD)
Unparalleled cinematography allows the viewer to soar with so many types of birds (primarily geese and ducks), many times at eye-level with the birds. You see, hear and feel the effort that goes into every stroke of their wings as the birds make their way from migratory start to finish. And there are spectacular moments of serendipity, such as the decoy scene. All these elements equal outstanding filmmaking. The movie stirs the conscience and conscious, too, helping us realize we MUST care for our environment and the creatures with whom we share this planet, without beating us over the head with a zealous ecological message.
The soundtrack at times lifts you with the birds, and at times is little more than repetetive Euro-pop trash; however, the images on-screen draw your attention more than the music. The narration is sparse and not overdrawn. The concluding song has a haunting beauty that makes me mist over even as I recall it.
The specs and features listed promise an excellent DVD product. I could watch this film over and over again, and I look forward to owning it on an excellent medium. If you love our earth and the winged marvels with whom we share it, you will love this movie. Guaranteed. If it fails to win for best cinematography at the Oscars, I will be disgusted. It's arguably the best documentary of a season of many fine documentaries.
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20 of 22 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Winged Migration, May 30, 2003
By 
loonbaby "KarenRice" (Alamo, CA United States) - See all my reviews
I don't believe I have every seen such an incredible nature film! This is truly cinematography as an art form. With probably no more than a dozen lines of spoken material, the film managed to convey a whole host of emotions in the viewer and makes one aware of the beauty of these amazing birds and their interations with each other, us, and the rest of nature. A truly memorable experience. Not to be missed!
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Winged Migration (Special Edition)
Winged Migration (Special Edition) by Michel Debats (DVD - 2003)
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