The Wild Parrots of Telegraph Hill (2003)

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Released 16-Aug-2006

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Documentary Main Menu Audio
Outtakes-The Parrots
Short Film
Theatrical Trailer
Credits-Pelican Media
Trailer-Life And Debt, M. Hulot's Holiday
Rating Rated G
Year Of Production 2003
Running Time 79:59
RSDL / Flipper Dual Layered Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 1,2,3,4,5,6 Directed By Judy Irving
Madman Entertainment
Starring Mark Bittner
Case Amaray-Transparent-Secure Clip
RPI $29.95 Music Chris Michie

Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame Pan & Scan English Dolby Digital 2.0 (224Kb/s)
English Audio Commentary Dolby Digital 2.0 (224Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio None
16x9 Enhancement No
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.85:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles None Smoking No
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

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

Plot Synopsis

    The Wild Parrots of Telegraph Hill is an uplifting documentary about one man's search for meaning in his life and how he finds it in the most unlikely place. Mark Bittner is a bit of a bum, down on his luck with little to be hopeful about. He's a former street musician who is basically homeless and squatting in a run-down cottage on Telegraph Hill in San Francisco. With little direction in his life things aren't looking all that good for Mark, but when he befriends a flock of South American Conure parrots that have also set up home on the slopes of Telegraph Hill he slowly starts to realise he may have found something to be hopeful about, almost without even realising it.

    As the story unfolds, the parrots are revealed as remarkable individuals, each with their own personalities and traits. Amazingly they seem to know when the camera is on them and launch into various mischievous performances. Mark nurtures and encourages their antics at the same time as learning all he can about the parrots and their origins. The photography of the birds is excellent. While obviously constrained by low budget equipment, the filmmakers have still managed to capture all the colour and noise of these amazing birds and more importantly captured their unique characters.

    Just when Mark looks to have his life heading in a better direction though, things start to look down when he is forced to move from his cottage due to renovations planned by the owners. Sadly this means losing contact with his beloved parrots. But this is just another step in an amazing journey for both Mark and the parrots with the ending offering up an interesting surprise.

    Directed, produced and filmed by Judy Irving this is a whole-heartedly recommended film that is both charming and life affirming.

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Transfer Quality


    With this documentary being a new production, the video quality is pretty good, though at times it is obvious it was shot on slightly lower quality hand-held video cameras.

    Presented in an aspect ratio of 1.33:1, this transfer is not 16x9 enhanced. This aspect ratio is different to the original aspect ratio of 1.85:1 and from initial viewing it would appear we have received an open-matte transfer with extra image included at the top and bottom of the frame.

    The transfer is a bit of a mixed bag at times in terms of clarity, but this is all down to the source material. There is also no low level noise.

    The colour palette on offer is rich and vibrant most of the time with the brightly coloured parrots in particular scrubbing up a treat. There are no problems with the colour rendition.

    There are no compression style artefacts present. Other artefacts are also absent. All up this is a blemish free transfer.

    Sadly there are no subtitles.

    The sole disc is a dual layered with no layer change obvious.

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


    There are two audio tracks on this disc. For the main film audio we have an English Dolby Digital Stereo 2.0 tracks encoded at 224 Kb/s. The other track is an English Dolby Digital commentary track also encoded at 224 Kb/s.

    Since the programme content is comprised almost entirely of narration and interviews there is little need for a more dynamic soundtrack.

    Dialogue is clear at all times with no problems evident. There are no apparent audio sync problems.

    There is a little music played throughout. It all suits what's happening on screen at the time.

    There is no surround or subwoofer channel use.

Audio Ratings Summary
Audio Sync
Surround Channel Use


Main Menu Audio

Audio Commentary

    An interesting commentary track featuring Mark Bittner, though he does tend to fall for the trap of merely describing what is happening on screen.

Outtakes - The Parrots

    Several extra scenes of the parrots doing various things that parrots do. These scenes run for around 2-3 minutes each.

Featurette - Updates

    Several updates on the parrots and Mark Bittner. Some of these are fairly lengthy, such as the 14 minute interview with the lady who first discovered the parrots.

Short Film

    Several short films (though really these are featurettes in any other language). These include a 3:11 look at an effort to save the California quail, a 12 minute tribute to a blue-crowned parrot called Conner and a 28 minute film edited from Mark Bittner's home video footage of the time spent with the parrots before the more professional filmmakers arrived. Rounding out the selection is a 4:16 music video of a song recorded by Roberta Fabiano and dedicated to the parrots Dogen, Conner and Tupelo.

Theatrical Trailer

    Running for 2:05, this is the original theatrical trailer. Doesn't give too much away.


    Lists the people involved in the production of the DVD.


    Bonus trailers for Madman titles Life And Debt and M. Hulot's Holiday.

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 disc misses out on;

    The Region 1 disc misses out on;


    The Wild Parrots of Telegraph Hill is a warm-hearted and uplifting look at what it means to share a special bond with animals and how that bond can lead our lives in a direction we would never have imagined. Bird lovers will appreciate some of the amazing vision of these quite rare parrots doing their stuff in the suburbs of San Francisco while the rest will enjoy the uplifting tale.

    The video and audio are as good as can be expected from a film shot on video with basic stereo sound.

    The extras are numerous.

Ratings (out of 5)


© Darren Walters (It's . . . just the vibe . . . of my bio)
Saturday, December 09, 2006
Review Equipment
DVDDenon DVD-3910, using RGB output
DisplayLoewe Calida (84cm). Calibrated with Digital Video Essentials (PAL). This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Digital Video Essentials (PAL).
AmplificationHarmon/Kardon AVR7000.
SpeakersFront - B&W 602S2, Centre - B&W CC6S2, Rear - B&W 601S2, Sub - Energy E:xl S10

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