Initial Release: 12 December, 2001

Time Duration: 1 hour 30 minutes

Directors: Jacques Cluzaud, Michel Debats and Jacques Perrin

Narrators: Jacques Perrin, Philippe Labro

Released in 2001, Winged Migration is a documentary film directed by Jacques Cluzaud, Michel Debats and Jacques Perrin. It was shot in all the seven continents over a course of four years. It is a one hour 30-minute balm for eyes tired of concrete and man-made superstructures, in which you will find birds in their natural flow and environment. The film is heavy on imagery and evocation, with minimal interference of information. Jacques Perrin, who also wrote the story, does the occasional narration of the story in the background.
The major motif of the film is the songs birds make—from the plaintive Ghulam Hassan Sofie’s que cry of this one to the Raj Begum type of crooning of that one—set to the music of the beating of their wings.

The movie manages to evoke a reactions of shock and anger through many of its frames—when a duckling is crushed by a bulldozer clearing a wetland to fill it with earth, cement and steel, when a hunter takes a flock of birds down and their broken bodies fall one by one like snowflakes, when a bird that has lost its wing is struggling to save itself from the crabs who eat it raw in the end, when glaciers crumble and a bird tries to float its boat on a small iceberg.

In nature, life seems all about food and shelter. However, the lesson of the film is that modern generations have ignored birds at their own peril. A poignant moment in the film is when an old lady finds a flock of cranes wandering for food. She brings whatever little she can fetch from her mud-hut in her shaky hands and invites them for a little feast. They gratefully accept her titbits, but the look of ecstasy on her face is a clear indication that it is her who has been enriched by the exchange.

What about you? Have you been enriched by a friendship with a bird lately?