They’ve some neck
IT IS, TO BE sure, somewhat unconventional for The Ticket to carry reviews of species rather than of movies or records, but the first emanation from Disney’s new natural history division makes such ruminations unavoidable.
Flamingos? You’re having a laugh, aren’t you? I mean the gaily-coloured wading birds are pretty and all. But they’re no monkeys. They’re no tigers. Didn’t you have any footage of sharks to show us?
To be serious for a moment, Crimson Wing does have an interesting story to tell.
The film follows the birds as they breed on the salt-encrusted shallows of Lake Natron in northern Tanzania. Those that survive then take part in a mighty trek to more watery parts, before – to adopt the portentous tone of such enterprises – the mighty, awe-inspiring cycle of awe-inspiring creation once more sets itself into awe-inspiring motion.
The film-makers are to be commended for largely avoiding the anthropomorphism that soiled such films as the over-praised March of the Penguins and the genuinely ghastly Arctic Tale. There are no “characters” in the picture, and emotions are never attributed to the birds.
It proves, however, impossible to the shake off the stubborn awareness that such things are done so much better by the BBC Natural History Unit.
(Indeed, while writing this review, I paused for a Hobnob and, purely by chance, caught David Attenborough being fascinating about turtles.)
Crimson Wing is edited with little imagination, the surging music is intrusive, and the commentary – delivered with absurd sultriness by an unwelcome Mariella Frostrup – oscillates between banality and the sort of half-baked poetry that would shame a teenage Muse fanatic.
According to Mariella, the mommy flamingos have some sort of “inner life” that constantly resists annihilation. Good for them. I’m still hanging on for the sharks, though.