DVD Review HTF REVIEW: Winged Migration: Special Edition

Discussion in 'DVD' started by Michael Osadciw, Nov 9, 2003.

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  1. Michael Osadciw

    Michael Osadciw Screenwriter

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    [​IMG]


    Winged Migration
    Special Edition






    Studio: Columbia TriStar Home Video
    Year: 2003
    U.S. Rating: G
    Canadian Rating: G
    Film Length: 85 minutes
    Genre: Documentary
    Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1, widescreen enhanced
    Audio: Dolby Digital 5.1 surround
    Subtitles: English, Hindi, Portuguese, Spanish

    SLP: US$26.95





    Release Date: November 18, 2003


    Beginning in 1998, over 400 people have taken part to create the Academy Award®-nominated for Best Documentary film Winged Migration. Directed and narrated by Oscar®-nominated filmmaker Jacques Perrin, this film documents the four-year filming over every continent as a variety of bird species are followed during their migrations. Seventeen pilots and fourteen cinematographers using aircraft most capable of maneuvering with birds’ flight patterns completed the dazzling cinematography.

    A migrating bird’s flight can be tiresome especially while crossing the ocean, as there is no land or objects to rest on during the journey. Through the hot deserts and the high mountains the young birds learn from their elders the route and landmarks that they will memorize because they will have to fly it twice a year for the rest of their lives.

    The beauty of the landscapes and the challenges the birds face from nature makes their journey an exciting one to see. Real sounds are caught on scene with a dedicated sound crew and over 400km of film was used equaling up to about 240 hours of screen time. The result is a tight film that never ceases to excite. It is no wonder this film was also honored with the Cesar Award for Best Editing and Golden Reel Award for Best Sound Editing.

    I thoroughly enjoyed this film because I’m a nature lover and I’m fascinated with the world around me. This world is so big with so many beautiful places to see. It’s great this film can show these places especially the ones that are mostly inaccessible like the mountaintops and the Antarctic (I’d love to go there one day). The methods of capturing the flights of these birds will leave you wondering how in the world the crew managed to get the shots they did. This special edition disc will show you how they were done in the special features area. The only annoyance with this disc was the in-player subtitles generated. I can understand that this is done to deliver this to a wider audience by using other language subtitles, but I still find these big ugly letters to be annoying as opposed to my preference of having the subtitles on the film print.


    Video Quality? [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG]/[​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG]

    The first thing that came to mind was how much I thought I was truly watching film. It had that feel all over the screen thus projecting a smoother and softer feel. Unfortunately there is more grain in some scenes that I’d like but most scenes have really good contrast for a pleasing experience. The camera work is phenomenal and the scenery and power of nature shown in this film is breathtaking. Most people can only wonder what it’s like to view the world from the flight path of the world and magically the filmmakers have given us that opportunity. Colours of birds look great during the African sequences but overall there is a pale look to the image that seems intentional of a very raw “European” look. Edge enhancement can be very bothersome throughout the whole film.


    Audio Quality? [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG]/[​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG]

    To transport us to these environments on screen the sound team collected the sounds from the animals and surroundings in this film and created an engaging 360-degree sound field. Sound placement is exceptional and there is almost always activity coming from the rear channels. There are many quiet passages broken with loud ones and is very clear. Since there is little dialogue but the narration, the effective music score is well suited to the birds’ personalities and is capable of carrying the mood. Sounds from the environment can sound a little stressed but this is only a limitation of the recording in the field. There is also low-level deep bass that accompanied some scenes but sounded like noise rather than an intentionally recorded sound. I imagine the team did the best job they could to bring the viewer as close as they could to these magnificent animals of flight.


    Special Features? [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG]/[​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG]

    Producer and (one of three) director(s) Jacques Perrin gives his very interesting commentary in English as we watch this film. There are two featurettes: Winged Migration: The Making Of (52m12s) and Creating the Music (17m22s) in 1.33:1 and DD2.0 stereo. The first featurette (well, more of a feature at its one-hour length!) is in English with French translation shows the amazing work that went behind to filming this documentary and the passion that each person had for the completion of the work. All of your questions of “How’d they do that?!” is answered here…and trust me I had a lot of them when watching this film! Amazingly done! The second featurette is in French with DVD player generated subtitles and of course discusses and shows how the music was made in the film.

    The next page of featurettes is in 1.78:1 and is widescreen enhanced. They are Filmmaker Interviews - About the Film (9m44s) and Further Insight (14m05s) with the latter being the most interesting about the birds that wasn’t explained in the film. A photo gallery with filmmaker commentary is next and is spoken in French accompanied with English subtitles, and we also get the theatrical trailer too - both widescreen enhanced.


    Thoughts…

    With the efforts involved in this film I think this should have received the Oscar® for the Best Documentary film. Without the dedication of this crew, the great film editing, the ability to compromise the storyboard to balance the uncontrollable weather conditions, this is an amazing film that is breathtaking and should not be missed. I highly recommend it.


    03.11.09
    Michael Osadciw
     
  2. SteveGon

    SteveGon Executive Producer

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    This one sounds interesting - I'll check it out.

    Michael, nice to see reviews of not-so-mainstream product. [​IMG]
     
  3. Bob Turnbull

    Bob Turnbull Supporting Actor

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    Nice review Michael. I'm also glad to see the smaller titles being reviewed.

    I've already got this one pre-ordered.
     
  4. ChrisBEA

    ChrisBEA Screenwriter

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    I saw this recently at a local second run theater and was amazed at how I really loved the film. It really blew me away, and I am not what one would consider a nature enthusiast. It was quite simply a beautiful thing to behold. More an experience than anything else. The thing I admire most about the movie was that it didn't drone on and on, it kept away from being educational (not saying I didn't learn a thing or two) but allowed the images to speak for themselves. From someone who usually isn't attracted to this type of film: Excellent review and I will be there on release day!
     
  5. MatthewLouwrens

    MatthewLouwrens Producer

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    I saw this at a film festival (under the international title "Travelling Birds"). Brilliant movie. I usually have very little interest in nature documentaries, and only saw it because of the high level of acclaim the film received - and because it filled in a space nicely. And I loved the film. Incredible film. Its energy and beauty, its humour and wonder are infectious. A must see film.
     
  6. Jeff Swearingen

    Jeff Swearingen Second Unit

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    This is on my list of must buys for 11/18 (LOTR, West Wing S1, Once Upon a Time...) and it's gonna be an expensive Tuesday.
     
  7. Joshua Lane

    Joshua Lane Second Unit

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    I'm definitely going to pick this up and for those interested, there's another film made by the same people and in the same style as this one (although, about insects) called Microcosmos. Both Amazon and DVDEmpire have it listed for release on January 13th.
     
  8. TonyD

    TonyD Who do we think I am?
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    joshua nice going. i was just about to say the same thing about microcosmos. i didnt know it was coming out tho'.
    watching winged migration right now and i am loving it.

    edit: not loving it as much after watching the making of docu.
     
  9. Thomas Newton

    Thomas Newton Screenwriter

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    I think I'll be adding this one to my shopping list.

    Another good nature film: The Life of Mammals, a BBC Video box set hosted by David Attenborough. I have only gotten through the first disc, but so far the photography is first-rate. The set has ten episodes of about 50 minutes each:

    Disc 1: "A Winning Design", "Insect Hunters", "Plant Predators"

    Disc 2: "Chisellers", "Meat Eaters", "Opportunists"

    Disc 3: "Return to the Water", "Life in the Trees"

    Disc 4: "Social Climbers", "Food for Thought"
     
  10. KevinFord

    KevinFord Stunt Coordinator

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    It's a small world, as I'm sure ChrisBea saw this at the South Hills mall which is where I was it as well.

    It was a fantastic film. Really the first documentary I've seen (in the theater) in quite some time. In the beginning, I found myself wanting more commentarty & narration by Jacques Perrin, but later I realized that I was so lost in the stunning imagery and sound that any more narration than was already there would be a distraction.

    Great film. I will be buying this on DVD. I'd like to hear a bit more about Microcosmo too.
     
  11. Ed St. Clair

    Ed St. Clair Producer

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    WOW!
    I WAS pumped up too buy this.
    Great reviews for the film & all.
    Now the transfer has me worried.
    Great review.
    I WANT, the good with the bad.
    Don't ever hold back.
    Too those who have seen both the film & the disc;
    Does it look “European”, too you?
    I hope to have a larger display, 'someday'.
    And have a great fear of EE! [​IMG]
     
  12. Ed St. Clair

    Ed St. Clair Producer

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  13. ChrisBEA

    ChrisBEA Screenwriter

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    KevinFord,
    That is exactly where I saw it! I like that they play the occasional Documentary, Foreign, Indie film. but they don't seem to take much pride in the presentation. I don't complain too much as they are cheap, and actually show these films! Recently: Man on a Train, Capturing the Friedmans, City of God, and of course WInged Migration.

    I have heard of Micocosmos, and after Migration, I am intrigued...
     
  14. EmmanuelM

    EmmanuelM Auditioning

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    Not to rain in anyone's parade but according to DavisDVD Microcosmos was pulled out of its original release date and no new date has been set. Yet. Bummer!
     
  15. Bob Turnbull

    Bob Turnbull Supporting Actor

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    Dammit, dammit, dammit, dammit, dammit...
     
  16. Kindo Larue

    Kindo Larue Auditioning

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    Forgive me, but I feel the way about this film that many felt about BOWLING FOR COLUMBINE.

    MIGRATION is hardly a documentary. There is so much "fiction" in this film through camera setups and editing that I couldn't suspend disbelief for a second.

    It always ticked me off when people would drone on and on about COLUMBINE’s alleged factual inconsistencies, yet fail mention that there hasn’t been a documentary made in the last 30 years that hasn’t fudged the facts to make the movie more like a movie.

    MIGRATION’s biggest offence? The “parrot escape” sequence. The audience I saw the film with clapped and cheered for the bird. Sickening. So much for “documenting” a day in the life of a bird…

    Yes, the film is beautiful, and I’m thrilled that so many found it to be delightful. But in the sea of praises, I wanted to voice my disapproval.
     
  17. TonyD

    TonyD Who do we think I am?
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    you make a good point kindo.
    the making of, on the dvd clearly and openly demonstrates how just about everything in the movie was staged.
    which is a disapointment after watching it.
    the birds flying around and the scenery were great to look at but many of the birds were essentially "stunt birds" that were trained using imprinting such as you see in the movie fly away home.
    and this makes me wonder if all the birds shown getting shot out of the sky were some of the stunt birds they had raised.

    i also felt the scene with the little baby bird about to be run over with a wheat cutter was unnessacary.

    and the end of the movie was a huge downer.
    my wife and i after enjoying the movie up to that point were feeling like we would rather not have seen it after the scene just before the end.

    i suppose this is what goes on in the animal world and the bird world, but it certainly wasn't what i watched the movie for and didn't expect it to be in the movie.
     
  18. David Lawson

    David Lawson Screenwriter

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    I thought most of the staged stuff was obvious; the composition of a number of shots was just too perfect. As mentioned above, the "parrot escape" is the main offender, and was the only sequence that really irked me due to its length and multiple camera angles. [​IMG]

    That said, I love this film for its imagery and originality, two things that Columbine doesn't have going for it. [​IMG] You could always maintain most of that "wow" factor by never watching the "making of" featurette...
     
  19. Scott Weinberg

    Scott Weinberg Lead Actor

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    "We have our script continuity. We're making a film that is neither fiction nor documentary; just a natural tale."

    This is mentioned in the "Making Of" documentary and I think it sums up the movie quite well. As a visit with nature that I've never been able to experience before, I think Winged Migration is just excellent.

    It doesn't bother me one bit that the filmmakers "staged" their animals, as they never once purport that their film is "unrehearsed". Based on what I've seen so far in the "making of" (only 20 minutes in), these people love and respect these animals.

    It's the first movie I've ever seen that made me feel like I was literally flying with a flock of birds...and it was a very cool sensation indeed. Great film.
     
  20. RAF

    RAF Lead Actor

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    I just finished watching this DVD and the extras and I must say that it does have some stunning imagery. However, even at the rather short length of 89 minutes I found myself looking at my watch after about 40 minutes or so. After a while the film got a bit repetitive for me, with a couple of exceptions.

    What saved the day for me, however, was the Making Of documentary. Getting to see how they trained some of the birds and all the acro- and aerobatics involved in getting the images on film was far more fascinating to me. To see the weeks and months of planning and travelling that went into capturing a minute or so of action was mesmerizing. I was totally wrapped up in this 52 minute "featurette" and, for me, it saved this DVD.

    Winged Migration contains some footage unlike anything else I've ever seen, and for that alone it is worth the price of admission. But I found it hard to sustain interest for an hour and a half. The behind the scenes stuff is the real adventure, staged or not.
     

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