Winged Migration

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Winged Migration
Winged Migration movie.jpg
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. It was shot using in-flight cameras, most of the footage is aerial, and the viewer appears to be flying alongside birds of successive species, especially 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 react the way the filmmakers want. Several of these species had never been imprinted before. Film was shot from ultralights, paragliders, and hot air balloons, as well as trucks, motorcycles, motorboats, remote-controlled robots, and a French Navy warship. 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 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 a bird.

Release date

  • France 2001/12/12
  • Belgium 2001/12/12
  • Switzerland 2001/12/13...(German speaking region)
  • Greece 2001/12/14
  • South Korea 2002/03/29
  • Germany 2002/04/04
  • Netherlands 2002/04/18
  • Hong Kong 2002/06/20
  • Russia 2002/06/21...(Moscow Film Festival)
  • Czech Republic 2002/07/8...(Karlovy Vary Film Festival)
  • Czech Republic 2002/07/18
  • Canada 2002/09/08...(Toronto Film Festival)
  • Turkey 2002/09/13
  • Israel 2002/09/19
  • Hungary 2002/09/19
  • Spain 2002/09/27
  • Italy 2002/11/15
  • Lithuania 2002/12/27
  • Poland 2003/04/04
  • Japan 2003/04/05...(Tokyo)
  • USA 2003/04/5...(Philadelphia International Film Festival)
  • Slovenia 2003/04/17
  • USA 2003/04/18...(Limited)
  • Norway 2003/05/02...(Kristiansand International Children's Film Festival)
  • Canada 2003/05/30
  • Australia 2003/06/19
  • Norway 2003/06/20
  • New Zealand 2003/07/13...(Auckland International Film Festival)
  • Mexico 2003/07/25
  • Denmark 2003/08/15...(Copenhagen International Film Festival)
  • Finland 2003/09/05
  • UK 2003/09/05
  • Denmark 2003/09/12
  • Sweden 2003/ 11/07
  • Iceland 2004/01/23...(French Film Festival)
  • Argentina 2004/07/29
  • Chile 2005/03/31
  • Ireland 2011/07/10...(Galway Film Fleadh)


Winged Migration has an overall approval rating of 95% on Rotten Tomatoes, 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]

  • Bill Lishman – He imprinted geese and taught them to follow him in a low-speed ultralight aircraft in a migration path from Canada to Virginia. "The idea of the traveling birds we owe to him." Lishman appears in the "Making of" documentary on the DVD release.[3]


  1. ^ "Winged Migration (2000)".
  2. ^ JP. "Le Peuple migrateur (Winged Migration) (2001)- JPBox-Office".
  3. ^ a b "Making of" special feature on the DVD
  4. ^ "Rotten Tomatoes". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved 25 October 2021.
  5. ^ "Winged Migration" – via
  6. ^ "". Retrieved 2014-05-14.
  7. ^ "". 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]