Travelling Birds (Le Peuple Migrateur) (2001)

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Released 22-Mar-2004

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Documentary Main Menu Audio & Animation
Featurette-Making Of
Notes-Director's Statements (3)
Rating Rated G
Year Of Production 2001
Running Time 85:31 (Case: 89)
RSDL / Flipper RSDL (81:19) Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 1,2,3,4,5,6 Directed By Jacques Cluzaud
Michel Debats
Jacques Perrin
Shock Entertainment
Starring Phillipe Labro
Jacques Perrin
Valentine Perrin
Francis Roux
Jacques Perrin
Stéphane Durand
Case Amaray-Transparent-Secure Clip
RPI $29.95 Music Bruno Coulais

Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.78:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.85:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles None Smoking Yes, In the featurette
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits Yes

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

     Since Icarus melted his waxen wings, humanity has shared a fascination with flight. And while Orville and Wilbur Wright spearheaded our entry into avionic adventures, there is no machine that we have built which has afforded us the grace, elegance and exquisite simplicity of a bird lifting into flight. For countless centuries, our ancestors and cousins worldwide have observed the migratory patterns of birds as a marking of the seasons - and sometimes as a portent of events to come. But what they were not so aware of then is the extraordinary distances these flocks travel, and the phenomenal endurance they display in their annual sorties north and south.

     The French film, Travelling Birds, is a celebration of their remarkable journeys, taking us on a birds' eye tour of the earth as they wing their ways through storms and thermals, across town and country, to far flung havens and back again. The original title of this film is Le Peuple Migrateur (The Travelling People) and certainly, for the crew associated with this production, the birds were very much people to them. Their central "characters" were hand hatched birds with which they used the principle of "imprinting" to establish a bond. Consequently, the geese, pelicans, swans and storks that are the main subjects of the movie identified the crew as "family", and they were raised to become accustomed to the motorbikes, boats and ultra-light aircraft used to film them. What resulted, after more than three years of shooting over all seven continents, was an amazingly intimate moving portrait of life on the wing.

     In a manner reminiscent of Baraka, this film is almost a meditation. It is sublimely photographed and unfolds at an unhurried pace. If I were to raise any criticism, my only thought would be that the narration by Phillipe Labro is largely unnecessary. There are occasional (burnt in) captions, and the contemplative mood of the piece is somewhat broken by the (fortunately infrequent) voice-overs. I felt that the vision is strong enough, and the captions sufficient to inform the audience, and the intervention of a human voice broke the spell a little. However, this was only a rare intrusion.

     Overall, this is a masterly and noble piece of work. It is an opportunity to view the world from an entirely different perspective and foster a new found respect for the birds on a wing.

Don't wish to see plot synopses in the future? Change your configuration.

Transfer Quality


     The transfer is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.78:1 16x9 enhanced.

     Unfortunately, the hope one could have had that a film of this exquisite standard would have an equally high transfer was not entirely realised. The sharpness was not particularly consistent or impressive. There was quite a lot of grain, and evidence of compression issues which made the image flatter than it should have been. There was low level noise evident, and this affected shadow detail somewhat. None of these problems were excessive in their presence, but it was disappointing that they were there at all.

     The colour palette was magnificent in this film - from the rich autumnal hues of northern Indian Summer to the icy whites of Antarctic scapes - there was subtlety and splendour in abundance.

     Again, there was an unfortunate presence of various artefacts that did nothing to enhance the magnificent photography on offer. There was aliasing, significant dust spots and a number of splice and edit marks. Some of the burnt-in captions suffered from telecine wobble and there was also mild motion blur - a shame when so much of the film was about action. As mentioned before, these problems were not so bad that they actually ruined the film, but they were disappointing in that they stole some of the grandeur from the presentation.

     There were no actual subtitles available, only the captions previously mentioned.

     This disc is an RSDL disc, with the layer change placed at 81:19. It is quite disruptive to the flow of the movie as it occurs "mid-flight".

Video Ratings Summary
Shadow Detail
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts


     There is one audio track on this DVD - English Dolby Digital 2.0.

     There is occasional monologue in this production, but what is there is clear and easy to understand. Audio sync is not an issue, as all narration is provided as voice-over only.

     The original music by Bruno Coulais was mostly very beautiful and suitably meditative. Some of the songs however, were a bit intrusive - the addition of human voices was, in my opinion, a bit of a distraction from the birds themselves, and possibly had the effect of anthropomorphising their behaviour somewhat. But this is a minor observation, and in the main, the music was as delicate or majestic as the vision itself.

     The surround channels were well utilised given their 2.0 limitations. Sound was directional and clear.

     There were very occasional bursts of subwoofer - entirely appropriate to the production.

Audio Ratings Summary
Audio Sync
Surround Channel Use


     The menu showed clips from the film with animation and the movie music. Very nice.

Featurette - Making of Travelling Birds (52:15)

     This featurette was almost the length of the feature and was of very good quality. This was equally as fascinating as the feature, showing the background to the film - hatching, raising and "imprinting" the birds; the technical trials endured by the crew and the very real bond between the stars and the staff. Very well worth a look.


     15 images from the film and behind the scenes.

Trailer - Microcosmos (1:45)

     This trailer for a film about the secret life of insects looks absolutely fascinating. Audio is in French only.

Directors' Statements:

     Jacques Perrin, Jacques Cluzard and Michel Debats write moving statements about the impact the film and the birds made on them.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

     The Region 4 version of this disc misses out on:

     These features look pretty interesting, so I'd have to say R1 is the winner.


     Breathtaking, dignified and unbelievably beautiful, this is a celebration and a tribute to the amazing endurance and variety of migrating birds. Highly recommended, in spite of a lacklustre transfer.

Ratings (out of 5)


© Mirella Roche-Parker (read my bio)
Wednesday, June 02, 2004
Review Equipment
DVDSinger SGD-001, using S-Video output
DisplayTeac 76cm Widescreen. Calibrated with Video Essentials. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials.
AmplificationTeac 5.1 integrated system
SpeakersTeac 5.1 integrated system

Other Reviews NONE
Comments (Add)
Truly a stunning film -
Alternate title - dlormans (This is my biography)
slightly bemused and disappointed -