05/24/2015  
Infected on DVD & Digital Video Jun 2See You in Valhalla on DVD May 26HeForShe Campaign Features Star-Studded Cannes ConversationDespite The Gods on DVD May 19The Gunman on Digital HD Jun 16 & Blu-ray Combo Jun 30So Bright Is the View on DVD May 26Bar Rescue: Toughest Rescues on DVD May 19

follow us on twitter

dOc on facebook

NE News Editor

Infected on DVD & Digital Video Jun 2...
See You in Valhalla on DVD May 26...
First look: Bill Murray in Netflix's "A Very Murray Chr...
'Late Show' Set Dismantled A Day After David Letterman ...
'Dancing With the Stars' Finale: Who Took Home the Gold...
Jane Fonda Admits She's 'Not Proud' of Plastic Surgery...
Everyone is missing the most important part of Louis C....
HeForShe Campaign Features Star-Studded Cannes Conversa...
Despite The Gods on DVD May 19...
Natalie Portman to Play Jackie Kennedy in Film About JF...



Share: email   Print      Technorati.gif   StumbleUpon.gif   MySpace   digg.gif delicious.gif   google.gif   magnolia.gif   facebook.gif
Permalink: Permalink.gif



Buy from Amazon

Buy from Amazon.com

Columbia TriStar Home Video presents
Winged Migration (2003)

"No special effects were involved in the filming of the birds."
- Opening title card

Review By: Joel Cunningham  
Published: November 16, 2003

Director: Jacques Perrin, Jacques Cluzaud, Michel Debats

Manufacturer: DVDL
MPAA Rating: G for (scenes of animals in peril)
Run Time: 01h:29m:07s
Release Date: November 18, 2003
UPC: 043396002418
Genre: documentary


Style
Grade
Substance
Grade
Image Transfer
Grade
Audio Transfer
Grade
Extras
Grade
A AB+A A-

DVD Review

Winged Migration is a spiritual sequel to 1996's Microcosmos, a French documentary that took a microscope to the world of insects. The new film, from the same producers, does much the same for birds, following a variety of species driven by genetic programming to take flight twice a year and travel unthinkable distances, chasing the changing seasons. Director Jacques Perrin and a team of 17 cinematographers and 450 crewmembers spent four years making this remarkable visual masterpiece, nominated for a Best Documentary Oscar® in 2002.

Winged Migration strives for visual splendor over information and education, employing only select subtitles and limited narration to explain what's happening onscreen. I, for one, am glad—any nature documentary (or encyclopedia, for that matter) could bore you with reams of facts about why and how and where birds migrate. This film is more fascinated with the impossible fact that they do, that tiny creatures that weigh less than a pound can fly 2,000 miles twice a year, navigating by instinct and the stars. It might be interesting to know why the albatross spends the first five years of its life circling the South Pole over and over, but I'm suitably impressed that it does, and thankful I can see it in action.

And most of the footage is similarly impressive. Bird watching is generally considered a boring sport for boring people, but the intricacies of avian behavior and the sheer variety among their numbers is certainly not boring. Winged Migration captures bird behavior close-up, and transforms it (with the help of Bruno Coulais' music) into a poetic, transcendent spectacle. There are unforgettable images—a flock of penguins cresting the waves; clouds of thousands of birds in flight, shifting and writhing in unison; the peculiar, amusing behavior of the Clark's Grebe, a funny, flat-topped creature that appears to run on the water's surface; the experience of vertigo watching as a crane soars off a cliff in Asia—all humbling displays of nature's wondrous beauty. When the birds fly over man-made factories (one appears to get caught in a pool of oil), it's shocking and disheartening that such elegant creatures must inhabit a world we've so effectively destroyed.

Some purists could criticize Perrin for making a "documentary" that is full of fictional narrative elements and tricks of editing (in one shot, birds in a snowy region look tense, and the music swells on the soundtrack as we see them swoop away, seemingly fleeing an impromptu avalanche). Many of the birds were trained movie stars, raised around the sound of plane engines so they wouldn't be distracted during filming. But Perrin admits he was trying to make a sort of visual poem rather than a straight informational piece. His more manipulative segments, including a scene where an injured bird appears to be set upon by predators, serve to illustrate the reality and terrible beauty of nature. Without these manufactured moments, the film would be pretty, but hollow (as they would be rather difficult to capture in reality). Still, the scenes of hunters killing ducks, which are not staged or false in any way, are somehow more heartbreaking. We've traveled with them on their thousand-mile journey, and it really seems a pity for them to be brought down by something as mundane as a hunter's bullet, a small object fired by a small man in a tiny pond, when they've seen so much beauty and lived so freely.

Rating for Style: A
Rating for Substance: A

 

Image Transfer

 One
Aspect Ratio1.85:1 - Widescreen
Original Aspect Ratioyes
Anamorphicyes


Image Transfer Review: This is largely a very nice looking transfer. The footage, though it came from a variety of sources recorded over four years, looks remarkably consistent. Colors are rich, contrast is excellent, and black levels are strong. However, a few scenes show some print damage, and though graininess never distracts, it does seem a bit excessive in a few places.

Image Transfer Grade: B+

 

Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
Dolby Digital
5.1
Englishyes


Audio Transfer Review: Winged Migration not only sounds better than 95 percent of documentaries, its sound design trumps many traditional films. The lush score is fully rendered and spread impressively across the front soundstage. The sound effects, all natural recording of bird song, fluttering wings, and whipping wind, make use of all five channels and are incredibly immersing. Very nice.

Audio Transfer Grade: A

 

Disc Extras

Animated menu with music
Scene Access with 24 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English, Spanish, Portuguese, Hindi with remote access
1 Original Trailer(s)
1 Other Trailer(s) featuring Cirque de Soliel: Varekai
1 Documentaries
3 Featurette(s)
1 Feature/Episode commentary by director Jacques Perrin
Packaging: Amaray
Picture Disc
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: RSDL

Extra Extras:
  1. Photo gallery with filmmaker commentary
Extras Review: It's rare than an extras package is perfectly suited to a film. There can be too many technical pieces, or too few substantive inclusions, or simply too few supplements in general. But Winged Migration strikes the perfect balance. The generous helping of bonus material answered every question I had about the movie, but never went into minutiae or overkill and never bogged down. And with birds as the only stars, we don't have to sit through tired promo-speak.

First is an intelligent commentary by director Jacques Perrin. His thick French accent and sometimes peculiar turns of phrase make it a little slow going at times, but he manages to be informative throughout. He talks a bit about the concept of the project and the difficultly in pulling it off, but he's more concerned with the beauty of the images onscreen. He talks at length about the different species of birds and their behavior, and about the different talented filmmakers who helped him along the way.

A 50-minute "making-of" piece is a perfect compliment to the commentary. We follow the step-by-step process of setting up a shot. Even though many of the birds filmed were trained, getting good footage was still largely a matter of chance, and it's fascinating to watch the filmmakers at work. Informative interviews are interspersed throughout, but the majority is given over to on-set footage.

Creating the Music is a 15-minute ode to Bruno Coulais' haunting, driving score. He and Perrin discuss their creative process and the gradual progression from ideation to creation to completion.

Two Filmmaker Interviews run a combined total of around 25 minutes. About the Film offers more on the creation process from the director and co-directors. Further Insights offers their remembrances of a few select moments and includes footage that didn't make it into the film proper.

An animated photo gallery runs 10 minutes and features commentary (in French with English subtitles) about each species of bird featured. Also included are an effective trailer and a clip for the latest bit of acrobatic performance art from Cirque de Soliel.

Extras Grade: A-

 

Final Comments

Winged Migration is pure eye candy, a stunning view of nature that eclipses the magic of Hollywood special effects a million times over. It fulfills film's purpose at its core and offers a new perspective on the world, one never before seen by man. The DVD's extras are much appreciated and satisfying, but the film stands on its own.

 


Back to top

Search 10,000+ titles:

or Advanced Search

DVD REVIEW ARCHIVE


Get FREE Shipping on all orders at TimeLife.com! - 120x90

 



Microsoft Store

Keywords

sci-fi, drama, television, a very murray christmas, bill murray, netflix, sophia coppola, george clooney, amy poehler, chris rock, paul shaffer, rashida jones, miley cyrus, the late show, david letterman, ed sullivan theater, taco bell, dancing with the stars, abc, rumer willis, riker lynch, noah galloway, val chmerkovskiy, celebrity, jane fonda, mile high club, plastic surgery, grace and frankie, saturday night live, louis c.k., racism, israel-palestine, movies, cannes, documentary, movie, jackie, jackie kennedy, darren aronofsky, pablo larrain, pitch perfect 2, rebel wilson, super fun night, derek hough, nastia liukin, american idol, fox, jennifer lopez, harry connick jr., keith urban, ryan seacrest, gary newman, daytime soap, general hospital, anthony geary, genie francis, frank valenti, mad max: fury road, mel gibson, george miller, tom hardy, hugh keays-byrne, charlize theron, the cw, arrow, the vampire diaries, supernatural, the originals, jane the virgin, the flash, the 100, izombie, reign, beauty and the beast, action, afc football championship game, jim mcnally, john jastremski, tom brady, bill belichick, music, prince, baltimore, rally 4 peace, freddie gray, 3rdeyegirl, metropolitan museum of art gala, kim kardashian, chloe sevigny, john paul gaultier, georgia may jagger, sarah jessica parker, rihanna, comedy, scifi, joss whedon, the avengers, chris evans, cris hemsworth, samuel l. jackson, scarlett johansson, jerem renner, revenge, manhattan love story, selfie, the mccarthys, the millers, gracepoint, mulaney, red band society, utopia, bad judge, dallas, 10th birthday party, kelly monaco, maks chmerkovskiy, meryl davis, hemorrhage, australia, tokyo, san francisco golden gate, docuementary

On Kindle!
On Facbook!
digitallyOBSESSED!
digitallyOBSESSED!
Promote Your Page Too

Visit:

Zarabesque.com

Original Magic Dress.com

Susti Heaven

Become a Reviewer | Search | Review Vault | Reviewers
Readers | Webmasters | Privacy | Contact
Microsoft Store