Winged Migration Philippe Labro

Runtime: 1 hour, 29 minutes
Director: Jacques Perrin, Jacques Cluzaud, Michel Debats
Starring: Jacques Perrin,Philippe Labro 82 Metascore From Reviews 153 user
IMDB: 8.0
Genres: Documentary
Studio: Sony Pictures Classics
MPAA rating: G (General Audience)
Buy from Amazon


A critically acclaimed and award-winning unique, exquisitely beautiful and jaw-dropping documentaryabout birds in flight in their natural world.

A film of transcendent beauty

A film that’s difficult to classify: part nature film, part documentary,part drama. And *completely* beautiful. The makers of this film used everyimaginable flying and suspending machine in order to film birds whereverthey went. From ultra-light planes to hot air balloons, to hang gliders thecamera operators managed to capture what must be the most amazing shots offlying ever filmed. The crew travelled the world to follow birds inmigration (and some in their native habitat).

My kids (ages 11 to 15) were transfixed.

To those who say this film lacks "action", I can only express my deep regretthat they are so earth-bound as to be unable to let go and soar with some ofnature’s most wonderful creatures.


I really cannot summarize this documentary in one word. I was awe-struck,elated, saddened…this movie has so many emotional experiences in one90-minute time frame that I am completely overwhelmed by it. Thecinematography is so outstanding it is nearly unbelievable. That samecinematography is behind much of the emotional upheaval of this documentary. Some of the vistas and scenery are so breathtaking that you might just findyourself crying from the joy of looking at something so beautiful.

The musical score for this movie is half the experience. I don’t think themovie would have been the same at all without it. The movie speaks to yourheart, but the music speaks to your soul. The birds themselves are stunningand you feel their complete freedom, as well as the effort it takes to flythese tremendous distances, all based on the instinct of survival. Not allsurvive, and you will feel the sadness and pain of the sacrifices made alongthe arduous trip.

I happen to be a bird lover, but I don’t think you need to be one to fullyappreciate this movie. It is so much more than just about birds, it’s thelife, struggle and survival of all wild creatures who follow theirinstincts. If you see this movie, and I think everyone should, you will comeaway from it with a greater feel and respect for nature and it’s struggles,as well as it’s magnificent beauty. And I, for one, believe that respectwill make each of us a better person.

I give this movie a 10.

The Birds, Revisited.

When documentaries fail to show humans and human events it’s almostenough to put the audience to sleep by default (except of course, thosewho get excited at the mere suggestion of shows like "Nova" oreducational programmes sponsored by the Mutual of Omaha).

WINGED MIGRATION doesn’t essentially need or looks to inform us what weprobably know already: that birds migrate, and in doing so, ensuretheir own species. But what it does show us is a continuous yetstriking montage of birds of different species flying among oceans,mountains, skies, land… we see them through their points of view,while throughout there is the barest suggestion of a plot here andthere as inevitably one bird either gets lost in flight, lands in aship, gets caught in toxic waste (of which it may not escape alive asthe others, obeying that instinctual law of moving on, depart), getsdisoriented and injured and becomes food for hungry crabs, or evencaptured by humans to become pets. Beautiful, sometimes moving imagesthat shows us a quiet cycle of life, death, and reproduction, whichwill stay with the viewer long after the credits have rolled.

Incomparable Beauty

Each shot of this pheonominal documentary has been painstakingly worked onfor over four years and it shows in one of the most beautiful and movingcinematic experiences I’ve ever witnessed. This is a documentary thatcelebrates and illustrates the beauty in life through a new set of eyes thatwe’ve never used before. For those of us who can’t be globe trotters, forthose of us who admire the tremendous live show that nature puts on for usevery day, and for those of us who have always dreamed of flying, this isthe movie to sit back and take in this wonderful experience. Some of theimages are so beautiful to witness, they may move you to tears out of sheerbeauty. How many scripted movies can do that?

This should have won Best Documentary.

Birds of a feather……

This magnificent documentary was a delight. It is a rare film to enjoy as itshows how these amazing creatures migrate from place to place in suchincredible fashion.

The colors and the backgrounds behind the different species are photographedwith such an eye to detail that one wonders the miracle of the technologybehind it. One thing that never ceased to surprise me was the way most birdsare shown flying in perfect formation as the camera seems to be part of theflock and it’s just going along for the ride.

Contrary to what other people have experienced in watching this film, timepractically "flew" for me as it was never boring, even though we areconstantly looking at birds that are somehow similar doing the same thingover and over.

It’s surprising that this documentary has been shown in art houses to grownups, mainly. It is a film that would be suitable for children instead ofother kinds of violent cartoons, or films that emphasize the brutal force inhumans.

I’ll take the birds, anytime!

a rare movie, a spiritual experience

Although much of this film features birds in the wild, most (but notall) of the incredible in-flight photography starred a variety ofimprinted birds. These geese, swan and pelicans, raised from birth bythe filmmakers, were transported to migratory routes and habitatsaround the globe to "perform" as if they were actors. Indeed they were!

Some have criticized this approach as somehow undermining the film’scredibility. But notwithstanding the film’s official classification,Perrin himself doesn’t consider his masterpiece as a documentary, butrather an homage to these beautiful creatures. The end result speaksfor itself. Winged Migration was simply the most awe-inspiring piece ofcinematography I have ever witnessed.

OK, I admit it… to me there’s something magical about bonding andflying with large birds, as has been previously depicted in Fly AwayHome and The Life of Birds (Part 10). I don’t know enough about thearguments against imprinting to defend the practice. But I suspectneither do its critics have specific knowledge of how these birds faredin life. They looked pretty happy to me.

The production itself, documented in the nearly one-hour ‘making of’featurette, was a monumental achievement against any yardstick. Perrinand his five crews shot more than 400 kilometers of film (240 hours) onlocation in forty countries and all seven continents. His team enduredthe hardships of nature (Hurricane Floyd, blizzards, heat, etc.) andthe dangers of flying machines (seven crashes). In order to capturethose incredible in-flight sequences, the filmmakers used just aboutevery moving platform one can imagine… from trucks toremote-controlled ATV’s, from speedboats to a Navy battleship, fromultralights to powered parachutes, and from gliders to hot-airballoons. Whatever it took.

And finally, Bruno Coulais’ moving orchestral score provided theperfect emotional pitch for the cinematography without being overlymanipulative. Folks who enjoy new-age genre (think Enya meets ChrisFranke) will want to own the soundtrack. It can easily stand on itsown.

Le Peuple Migrateur is a rare movie. And for me, a spiritualexperience.


Even if you are not a bird watcher, the magnificent film footage willtake your breath away. Using motorized gliders, you will view the worldas the birds do and fly with them as they migrate south for the winter.The cameras take you through all four seasons with various kinds ofbirds as they follow their instincts through all kinds of tough weatherand situations. Although the film could’ve been used for socialcommentary, I think you will find that the filmmakers’ choice toprovide the viewer with an objective bird’s eye view was bothappropriate and tasteful. All you need to do is sit back, enjoy andimagine that you are ‘just one of the birds’! The stunning views of thelandscape alone make this a must-see film. I highly recommend the"making of" extended DVD version to get a first-hand look at thespecial relationship that developed between the crew and the birds.

Flight Smooth

¿It is me or is it not extraordinary that a single documentary filmingfor hour and a half only birds? Alright, birds are cute, ¿Who doesn’tlove to see a parrot eating a piece of pie and chanting for 2 minutes?Well, Jacques Perrin achieves with extraordinary cameras (how did he dothat?)to trap us in the poetic flight of a condor, in the lightness ofan albatross and in the comical stumbles of a penguin. We are amazedjust with looking at the bird, learning at its migratory course, andcontemplating the fastuose sky that lies as a recurrent location. Thisfilm has a poetry, a music that involves the soft movements of thebirds. If you are patient and decide to take up this challenge; oneSunday evening after you took a shower: trust me, It will be aeverlasting experience.

Companion book

Stunning as this movie is, there are many questions to be answered:

* A bird may migrate 2000 miles, but how many halts does it make? *What kind of energy is expended by the bird during the migration? *what are the longest migrations ( Arctic Tern is THE longest, Ibelieve). * How do the birds do it, even assuming instinct? Stars?Landmarks? Weather patterns? * What are the hazards? Hunters, oilsludge and such are shown in the movie but there are many naturalhazards. * What are the ratio of birds starting vs completing themigration? * Why do birds migrate? Why many birds do not migrate? * Whymigrate such long distances?

I recommend a awe-inspiring informal companion book:Living on the Wind:Across the Hemisphere With Migratory Birds by Scott Weidensaul

One of the best animal documentaries

With minimal commentary and occasional captions, Winged Migration is oneofthe best animal documentaries I’ve ever seen. This film shows captivatingshots of different types of birds and their quest to migrate for survival.Natural surroundings such as sky-scraping cliffs, huge mountains andglaciers serve as breathtaking backgrounds.

Also included is the reality of life and death. Indeed there is beauty andwonder when you see adult birds feeding their young or a community ofbirdsworking together to protect themselves. But there is not a lot of beauty,although still wondrous, when the film captures a flock of birdspeacefullyflying and suddenly gunfire erupts and several simply drop down, killed byhunters.

Complementing the cinematography is the enchanting music which seems tocapture the triumphs and failures of the migration quest. And the naturalsounds of wings flapping, birds chirping, and ocean waves are so clear youforget that you are watching a film.

Throughout the film you will wonder how the directors shot this film sincemost of the film shots are right next to the birds, whether their flyingthousands of feet above the land or just a few inches above the water.However, you soon forget to question these mysteries since the film is sospectacular you just want to relax and be fascinated.

Posted in:

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.