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Movie Review: Winged Migration

Story: Come fly with me - let's fly away! Sorry, but I couldn't resist that obvious and corny opening salvo. Run, or should I say fly to see this Best Documentary Oscar nominee (it lost to Bowling for Columbine) and be visually captivated by this homage to our fine feathered friends as they migrate thousands of miles to their feeding and breeding grounds. With a crew of 450 dedicated and brave people, French Director Jacques Peppin (Himalaya, Microcosmos) brilliantly oversaw this four year labor of love. By using helicopters, hot air balloons, gliders and most of all an amazing amount of patience we are witness to this avian quest for survival.

Unlike many of the wildlife documentaries on TV, Peppin uses an economy of narration. It was refreshing, indeed, to see short passages of the birds' trials and tribulations as they fly through dangerous hunting grounds, industrial pollution and the illegal pet trade without getting the usual lecture via voice over. We are left to draw our own conclusions -- and of course, I did.

You do not have to be an animal lover to see this film - but it helps. If you have an interest in other species (and you should), nature, geography or are looking for a spiritual uplifting 90 minutes, do yourself a favor and go to see this wonderful film.

Acting: Not applicable - but I did particularly enjoy the Clark's Grebe and the Red Crowned Crane.

Predilection I love wildlife and wild places and am partial to documentaries.

s:Critters: Needless to say there were birds but we also saw frogs, crabs, fish and horses.

Food: Everyone was someone else's dinner.

Visual Art: A landscape advocate's dream film.

Blatant Product Placement: Mother Nature.

Soundtrack: Most of the time it was understated with a new age pull. We are always able to hear the musical sounds of quacks, peeps, chirps and honks of the birds.

Opening Titles: Minimal.

Theater Audience: A small flock of devoted (and hopefully, not endangered) documentarians.

Squirm Scale: It is never easy to see an animal about to die.

Predictability Level: High

Tissue Usage: I got a bit teary as the birds were migrating south through Manhattan. The film was obviously shot before September 11, 2001, and the glorious skyline of the City is seen as it was before the nightmare. How long ago those days seem to be....

Oscar Worthy: Yes.

Nit Picking: No nits to pick.

Big Screen or Rental: Big screen for sure. You could also rent, Fly Away Home and Birdman of Alcatraz.

Length: 90 soaring minutes.