It’s fairly rare that I take a second look at a documentary unless the subject matter is particularly interesting to me. (The only documentary I can think of that I’ve seen more than twice is Rob Epstein’s The Times of Harvey Milk (1984).) As a result, I met the Hendersonville Film Society’s announcement that they were showing Winged Migration with a slight groan, since I had no real desire to see it again. Don’t get me wrong, I like birds well enough, but I’m just not morbid about them. So it was a pretty pleasant surprise to find that this ambitious look at our feathered friends holds up very nicely on a second viewing.
As I did originally, I still detect a soupçon of Gallic arrogance in the fact that duck hunting is presented as the exclusive province of North America, while we are shown a little French boy rescuing a bird from industrial sludge. But it really matters very little in the final analysis. What remains are the most breathtakingly beautiful visuals of bird life you’re ever likely to see on the screen—captured with grace and surprising drama. If you’ve never seen it, it belongs on your to-see list. If you have, it’s well worth another look.