They’ve some neck

The Irish Times - Friday - The Ticket - - Filmreviews - DON­ALD CLARKE irish­­icket/

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.

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