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Winged Migration

by Jacques Perrin

I chose to rent this film as something educational to watch with my son, but also because I am a birder and thought it would be fascinating. I did enjoy it – it’s a beautiful film in many ways – but I also couldn’t help but be somewhat disappointed, because I feel that with some very minor changes it could have been a LOT better.

First the good stuff. It is gorgeous. The cinematography is stunning, and they got some amazing footage of bird behaviours that probably aren’t all that easy to capture on film. The music was also evocative and appropriate, and I found watching this film to be overall very soothing. (Except when it wasn’t supposed to be soothing. The gunshots just about broke my heart). So, from that standpoint it was wonderful, and well worth watching just for the amazing camera work. Also, I think it did get a point across about human interference, without being obvious about the issue. (Although I think they could - and should - have pushed this a bit more without being obnoxious).

My main gripe is that the science was soft: First, there was not enough of it. I found it annoying that not all the bird species shown were identified. I was able to ID most of them myself, but not all (and I’ve got a lot more expertise in this area than most people). How difficult would it have been to include those extra subtitles? (Not very, IMO). On the plus side, though, for the subtitles, I loved that they included the migration routes and distances for several of the birds. While we were watching, my son and I pulled out our globe, and every time they introduced a new species, we paused the show so we could trace the routes for ourselves on the globe. So, this part was good, but I had hoped there would be more educational stuff about migration itself – more details about the whys and hows. Not to mention that at least one of the few “informational” statements that was made was incorrect. Oh, it was a small thing – when the narrator said that the young birds follow their parents and memorize landmarks that they’ll pass two times a year for the rest of their lives. But, um, not necessarily true, as many birds follow different routes in the spring and autumn. Yeah, I realize this is nitpicky, but if you’re going to make a film this gorgeous, why not do it right and make it accurate and just a tiny bit more informative? Also, what happened to Australia? (Wah)!

Still, on the whole I really did enjoy it, and would recommend it to anyone who is interested in birds and nature. Just don’t expect to learn a lot from it. Watch this film because it’s very, very pretty.

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