ⓘ Winged Migration


ⓘ Winged Migration

Winged Migration 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.


1. Production

The movie was shot over the course of four years on all seven continents. 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".

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 films 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

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

2. Reception

Winged Migration has an overall approval rating of 96% on Rotten Tomatoes. By gross ticket sales, the film still holds seventh place in nature documentaries and eighteenth in documentary overall.


3. Awards and honors

The film was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature. It won "Best Editing" at the 27th Cesar 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 Barbe Best Cinematography nominated -Dominique Gentil Best Cinematography nominated -Thierry Machado Best Cinematography nominated -Stephane 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

Cesar 2002 Best Editing Meilleur montage Marie-Josephe Yoyotte Best First Work Meilleure premiere oeuvre nominated - Michel Debats Best First Work Meilleure premiere oeuvre nominated - Jacques Cluzaud

The European Film Award 2002 Best Documentary Award Nominated - Jacques Cluzaud Best Documentary Award Nominated - Michel Debats