Winged Migration Jacques Perrin

Winged Migration Jacques Perrin
In a movie age inundated with bullet-time photography and CG-generated universes, the latest nature documentary from director Jacques Perrin (Microcosmos) comes as a breath of fresh air. Filmed over three years in 40 countries, Winged Migration follows the migratory routes of various bird species via close-ups captured by planes, gliders, helicopters, hot-air balloons and custom-built aircraft.

The result is a breathtaking and remarkably intimate journey alongside birds as they soar past mirrored waters, red deserts and manmade landmarks such as the Eiffel Tower and the Great Wall of China. From the solitary flight of the bald eagle to the majestic sweep of the mighty albatross, Perrin reveals the inherent beauty of this instinctive behaviour and heightens it with an uplifting mix of orchestral and world beat music.

It's not all Baraka-esque stoner footage, however. As narrator Philippe Labro puts it, "migration is a fight for life." Stampeding horses, combine harvesters and predators — most notably, rifle-wielding humans — all threaten to shatter the superficial serenity of the migratory process. One of the film's more graphic moments involves a crippled swallow being consumed by a horde of scavenger crabs.

For a documentary, Winged Migration is somewhat thin on educational content, offering little more than a series of subtitles indicating species names and the number of miles travelled. With a credit list of five camera crews, 17 pilots and 14 cinematographers, the emphasis is of course on the stunning visuals, guaranteed to make National Geographic subscribers soil their organic cotton cargo shorts in ecstasy.

On the other hand, for those who have forgotten what nature looks like, Winged Migration is both a timely alternative to the summer blockbuster frenzy and a refreshing reminder of the beauty all around us. (Mongrel Media)
Andy Lee