"Winged Migration’ soars | SummitDaily.com

"Winged Migration’ soars

If you’re looking for a hysterical weekend night out at the movies, see “American Wedding.” But, if you’re looking for an amazing film that makes your heart soar as high as the birds it documents, don’t miss “Winged Migration” at the Speakeasy Movie Theatre.

The 89-minute documentary follows a variety of birds from every continent as they migrate. It might sound like a movie you had to watch in junior high science class where a tinny-sounding, authoritative male voice tells you more than you ever wanted to know about bird behavior, but it’s not.

“Winged Migration” is more artsy than intellectual. Rather than weigh itself down with technical information in the name of education, the film soars with visual spectacle. The lean narration gives the birds the dignity they deserve, instead of talking over them.

In fact, the film allows the birds to speak for themselves in a couple ways. It zooms in as it records all kinds of clucks, honks, songs, screams, squeaks, screeches – even noises that sound like horns at a New Year’s Eve party.

And, it allows them to tell their story of such human interferences as hunting and pollution. Director Jacques Perrin draws the audience into the birds’ free-soaring lifestyle then shows the birds plummeting from the sky at the sound of gunshots. As we watch one bird struggle to escape sticky sludge, we aren’t told pollution is bad; we feel its effect.

Throughout the film, the cinematography amazes. Long aerial tracking shots show birds flying into the wind. Later, a bird hatches from an egg looking reptilian, but other shots of baby birds are cuter than a basketful of puppies. Some footage looks more like a swarm of bees than black birds, other footage, more like white confetti thrown into the sky. And, the number of king penguins standing on icebergs could pack the largest stadium in the nation.

The filmmakers shunned special effects, instead relying on cameras, ultralight aircraft, hot air balloons and patience to capture their subjects from above, below, behind, ahead and at eye level. They even exposed unhatched eggs to sounds of people and cameras so when the birds emerged they wouldn’t fear film crews. It took four years, but the result is stunning.

When I first heard of “Winged Migration,” I wasn’t compelled to rush to the theater. But after seeing the film, I’d say it’s a must-see on a big screen. It captures the majesty of flight, as well as the awesome landscapes below.

Kimberly Nicoletti can be reached at (970) 668-3998, ext. 245, or by e-mail at knicoletti@summitdaily.com.

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