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Winged Migration

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Winged Migration
theatrical poster
Directed byJacques Perrin
Jacques Cluzaud
Michel Debats
Written byJean Dorst
Jacques Perrin
Produced byChristophe Barratier
Jacques Perrin
Narrated byJacques Perrin
Philippe Labro
Music byBruno Coulais
Distributed byBAC Films
Release date
  • 12 December 2001 (2001-12-12) (France)
Running time
97 minutes
Budget$23.6 million
Box office$52.8 million[2]

Winged Migration (French: Le Peuple Migrateur, also known as The Travelling Birds in some UK releases, or The Travelling Birds: An Adventure in Flight in Australia) is a 2001 documentary film directed by Jacques Cluzaud, Michel Debats and Jacques Perrin, who was also one of the writers and narrators, showcasing the immense journeys routinely made by birds during their migrations.

The film is dedicated to the French ornithologist Jean Dorst.


The movie was shot over the course of three years on all seven continents. Filming began in July 1998 and ended in spring 2001. Most of the footage is aerial, shot using in-flight cameras from ultralights, paragliders, and hot air balloons, with additional footage captured from trucks, motorcycles, motorboats, remote-controlled robots, and a French Navy warship.

The viewer appears to be flying alongside birds of successive species, with many shots of Canada geese. They traverse every kind of weather and landscape, covering vast distances in a flight for survival. The filmmakers exposed over 590 miles of film to create an 89-minute piece. In one case, two months of filming in one location was edited down to less than one minute in the final film.

Much of the aerial footage was taken of "tame" birds. The filmmakers raised birds of several species, including storks and pelicans, from birth. The newborn birds imprinted on staff members, and were trained to fly along with the film crews. The birds were also exposed to the film equipment over the course of their lives to ensure that the birds would not be unsettled by it. Several of these species had never been imprinted before.

Its producer says that Winged Migration is neither a documentary nor fiction, but rather a "natural tale".[3]

The film states that no special effects were used in the filming of the birds, although some entirely CGI segments that view Earth from outer space and include animated birds augment the real-life footage.

The film's soundtrack by Bruno Coulais was recorded by Bulgarian vocal group Bulgarka Junior Quartet in Bulgarian, as well as Nick Cave in English and Robert Wyatt. The vocal effects include sequences in which panting is superimposed on wingbeats to give the effect that the viewer is right alongside a bird.

Release date The film was released in France on 2001/12/12, Japan 2003/04/05...(Tokyo), the USA 2003/04/5...(Philadelphia International Film Festival), and the UK on 2003/09/05


Winged Migration had an overall approval rating of 95% on Rotten Tomatoes as of October 2021, based on 132 reviews, and an average rating of 8.2/10. The website's critical consensus states, "A marvel to watch".[4] It also has a score of 82 out of 100 on Metacritic, based on 34 critics, indicating "universal acclaim".[5] By gross ticket sales, the film still holds seventh place in nature documentaries [6] and eighteenth in documentary overall.[7]

Awards and honors[edit]

The film was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature.[8] It won "Best Editing" at the 27th César Awards, where it was also nominated for "Best Music" and "Best Debut".

• Oscar 2003 Best Documentary Feature (nominated) – Jacques Perrin

• European Film Award 2002 Best Documentary Feature (nominated) – Jacques Perrin

• CFCA Award 2004 Best Cinematography (nominated) – Laurent Charbonnier Best Cinematography (nominated) – Luc Drion Best Cinematography (nominated) – Laurent Fleutot Best Cinematography (nominated) – Sylvie Carcedo Best Cinematography (nominated) – Philippe Garguil Best Cinematography (nominated) – Olli Barbé Best Cinematography (nominated) – Dominique Gentil Best Cinematography (nominated) – Thierry Machado Best Cinematography (nominated) – Stéphane Martin Best Cinematography (nominated) – Fabrice Moindrot Best Cinematography (nominated) – Ernst Sasse Best Cinematography (nominated) – Thierry Thomas Best Cinematography (nominated) – Michel Terrasse Best Documentary (nominated)

• Chicago Film Critics Circle Awards 2004 Best Cinematography (nominated) – Bernard Luti Best Cinematography (nominated) – Michel Benjamin

• César 2002 Best Editing (Meilleur montage) Marie-Josèphe Yoyotte Best First Work (Meilleure première oeuvre) (nominated) – Michel Debats Best First Work (Meilleure première oeuvre) (nominated) – Jacques Cluzaud

• The European Film Award 2002 Best Documentary Award (Nominated) – Jacques Cluzaud Best Documentary Award (Nominated) – Michel Debats


See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Winged Migration (2000)". en.unifrance.org.
  2. ^ JP. "Le Peuple migrateur (Winged Migration) (2001)- JPBox-Office". www.jpbox-office.com.
  3. ^ "Making of" special feature on the DVD
  4. ^ "Rotten Tomatoes". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved 25 October 2021.
  5. ^ "Winged Migration" – via www.metacritic.com.
  6. ^ "BoxOfficeMojo.org". Retrieved 2014-05-14.
  7. ^ "BoxOfficeMojo.org". Retrieved 2014-05-14.
  8. ^ "NY Times: Le Peuple Migrateur". Movies & TV Dept. The New York Times. 2009. Archived from the original on 2009-09-05. Retrieved 2008-11-23.

External links[edit]