Winged Migration (2001)

France, Jacques Perrin

: Winged MigrationLoved the movie–Hated the audience.

First, the movie. A-May-Zing! I’m almost embarrassed to admit how much I was looking forward to seeing this film. Where a majority of the film-going population has been waiting with bated breath for the next Matrix movie to come out, I’ve been anticipating this film with equal relish, since I first saw the trailer for it on the internet months ago.

The cinematography promised to be cutting edge, up with the birds, in your face, soaring mere inches in front of you spectacular, and it was truly breathtaking. There’s something about watching birds in flight that I find profoundly moving. I can’t really describe it. I love to see V-formations of geese, hearing them honk and squawk and, better yet, the sound their wings make beating the air as they fly directly over head. This film puts you up there with them, flying over some spectacular scenery.

Winged Migration also has a very cool interactive website.

My only criticism is the over-wrought new age music playing throughout. Some of it is simply awful and comes close to undermining the film. All the music with English words should be struck from the film. The stuff with the drumming, the chanting monks and the Enya-esque, Gallic-sounding singing was alright, and even at times effective. The songs that open and close the film made me wince in my seat, especially the song under the closing credits, which was like a bad love song (something about staying “by your side”) anthropomorphized to fit the birds. I look forward to watching the film again on DVD with the sound turned down.

Now, a word about the audience–What a bunch of magpies!

(Sorry, couldn’t resist.) We were surrounded on all sides by people who obviously mistook the theatre for their own living room. To our left, a woman who oooed and ahhhed over each spectacular image. At one point I looked over to give her the evil eye, and she was sitting there wide-eyed, with her hands on her cheeks and her mouth wide open in perfect Little Rascals style. To our right was a man who proceeded to impress his date by correctly naming each location as it appeared on screen: “That’s Monument Valley,” “That’s the Eiffel Tower in Paris,” and our favorite, “That’s the Twin Towers. They’re not there anymore.”

I’m talkin’ this was one of the worst, chattiest audiences I’ve ever experienced, which surprised me given the type of film we were watching. It’s the kind of chatter I’ve come to expect at the Wilmette Theatre, where the average age of their patron is probably 58. My guess is that people are used to seeing this kind of program on their TV set at home. Did anyone else encounter this audience phenomenon at “the bird movie?”

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