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The Crimson Wing
4 out of 5 stars
Time Out says
4 out of 5 stars
It’s one of the oddest birds on the planet and one of the most beautiful, but is the flamingo worth devoting a feature to? Disney always needed to up the ante if its new wildlife label, Disneynature, was to compete with big nature-doc players like the BBC, National Geographic and Animal Planet. That it’s pulled it off so well is testament to the skills of the production team because, in the pantheon of wildlife docs, this one’s a corker: the cinematography is exquisite; it’s admirably devoid of any overt anthropomorphism; the narration, while a little too mythical in context, is informative; the music is perfect; and, for a Disney-branded film, it’s surprisingly willing to face up to the more grisly side of life in the wild.
The film opens with a breathtaking scene of lesser flamingos en route to their breeding ground at Tanzania’s Lake Natron, an inhospitably salty body of water just inches deep. During the dry season it’s a salt flat, but after the rains a nourishing red algae forms along with islands of crusty salt, affording the birds a safe area to nest and nurture their cute, ungainly offspring. At least until the dreaded malibu storks turn up for the easy pickings…
Special honours to the Cinematic Orchestra for its quirky score and, of course, to the pin-sharp photography. On the negative side, it takes a while to adjust to Mariella Frostrup’s throaty voiceover and the film wanes near the end. But as a first Disney wildlife foray, this is very grown-up.