The Crimson Wing: Mystery of the Flamingos (a J!-ENT Blu-ray Disc Review)
October 10, 2010 by Dennis Amith
Fascinating, entertaining and another awesome DisneyNature film worth watching! Flamingos are quite mysterious creatures but “The Crimson Wing: Mystery of the Flamingos” definitely sheds some light on the life of the flamingo and the phenomenon that occurs at Lake Natron. Definitely recommended!
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TITLE: The Crimson Wing: Mystery of the Flamingos
FILM RELEASE: 2008
DURATION: 78 Minutes
BLU-RAY DISC INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition (1:85:1), English 5.1 DTS-HD MA, English and French 5.1 Dolby Digital, Subtitles: English, English SDH, French
COMPANY: Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment
RATED: G (General Audiences)
Release Date: October 19, 2010
Directed by Matthew Aeberhard, Leander Ward
Written by Melanie Finn
Executive Producer: Stephen Garrett
Produced by Matthew Aeberhard, Leander Ward, Paul Webster
Associate Producer: Kim Ballard, Melanie Finn
Music by The Cinematic Orchestra
Cinematography by Matthew Aeberhard
Edited by Nicolas Chaudeurge
Zabout Breitman (Narrator)
Mariella Frostrup (voice)
Experience a birds‐eye view from Disneynature – the studio that brought you EARTH ‐ as one of nature’s last great mysteries unfolds in The Crimson Wing: Mystery of the Flamingos. A heartwarming story of survival, The Crimson Wing explores the spectacular lives of a million crimson‐winged flamingos, offering a glimpse of their rare journey. Appropriate for families of all ages, this film showcases a dramatic, neverbefore‐ filmed backdrop, as the regal birds wing to another world in an inspiring and colorful story of majesty.
Have you ever been to the zoo and wondered how flamingos which were born white get that red/pink sheen? Have you ever wondered if flamingos can fly?
“The Crimson Wing: Mystery of the Flamingos” answers those questions that one have asked about flamingos in this British/French/American documentary directed by Matthew Aeberhard and Leander Ward. The film is also the first production of DisneyNature, the new studio which began in 2008 (and released their first film “Earth” in 2009).
The goal of the filmmakers was not to make your usual nature documentary but to create a film about the beginning of life of the flamingos in conjunction with a musical score.
The film documents the nature phenomenon that takes place in Lake Natron in northern Tanzania. The lake which is shallow is also unusual that the lakes are made poisonous due to volcanic activity and temperatures rise to 120 degrees Fahrenheit and the lake turns nearly blood red due to cyanobacteria (acqueous bacteria and beta carotene to be exact). But when the rains come, the lake is filled with water and the lake is filled with algae. And once a year, hundreds and thousands of white flamingos flock to Lake Natron in order to feed on the red cyanobacteria which then turns their bodies to pink. The more algae/cyanobacteria that the flamingos feed on, the redder they are, the redder/pinker they are indicates how healthy the flamingo is.
But the purpose of the flamingos flocking to Lake Natron is not just for feeding, it’s when hundreds and thousands are looking to mate and within a months time, give birth to thousands of more flamingos but also undergo through survival as nature’s elements, the salt-filled lake and the wild animals are lurking around, wanting to feast or create havoc on the flamingos as well.
“The Crimson Wing: Mystery of the Flamingos” gives us a perspective of the flamingos which many people are not familiar with and exposes us to the flamingo phenomenon at Lake Natron in which Matthew Aeberhard, Leander Ward and crew document the flamingos. From arrival, to birth and to the time these young flamingos grow up and are able to fly and leave the area, until they come back once again.
“The Crimson Wing: Mystery of the Flamingos” is presented in 1080p High Definition (1:85:1 aspect ratio). Picture quality for the film is quite beautiful on Blu-ray. From the overhead video of the area, at first we thought it was CG but we quickly learned that what we saw on film was algae deposits, sulfur and salt at Lake Natron.
Picture quality ranges from how close up the filmmakers were trying to capture the flamingos closeup as the closer they are, you do see the video looking a bit fuzzy and noise is quite evident. But for the most part, the flamingos pink and reds do look beautiful in HD, as do the sunsets and some outdoor scenes with the blue water, earthtones, browns and whites from volcanic scenery and greens which look vibrant as well.
I didn’t see any compression, there is a little banding but for the most part, picture quality of “The Crimson Wing: Mystery of the Flamingos” was nicely done. Cinematographer Matthew Aeberhard did a really good job in capturing the flamingos, the wildlife and scenery of Lake Natron and its surroundings.
AUDIO & SUBTITLES:
“The Crimson Wing: Mystery of the Flamingos” is presented in English 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio (48 kHz/24-bit), French and Spanish 5.1 Dolby Digital.
Narration and music courtesy of the Cinematic Orchestra were nicely done and come quite clearly through front and center channels. There is quite a bit of ambiance from the thousands of flamingos chirping and trying to flap its wings. Also, scenes which feature storms and waterfalls can be heard quite nicely through the surround channels.
Subtitles are in English SDH, French and Spanish subtitles.
“The Crimson Wing: Mystery of the Flamingos” features the following special features in 1080p High definition (1:33:1):
- Living Planet – An interactive feature which features a globe in which you can select destinations with your remote. Click on the various areas in several continents to learn real-time information of what is going on at several wildlife areas and also learn details about the film. You get the current date, time and temperature on the bottom right corner as well.
- Filmmaker Annotations – While watching “The Crimson Wing: Mystery of the Flamingos”, you get a picture-and-picture video with the filmmakers discussing aspects of capturing the flamingos on film, filming in Natron and what their goals were before making the film to learning of the challenges they experienced and more. You also get text annotations on the bottom of the screen.
- Lake Nation Diaries: Behind the Crimson Wing – (19:42) The making of “The Crimson Wing: Mystery of the Flamingos”. From cre”ating a base camp at a missionary house in Natron, capturing the mating, birth and life of the flamingos, filming at Lake Natron and how it’s a geological phenomenon and creating the music for the film.
- The Crimson Wing Screensaver – (5:13) A video screensaver which is actually a music video of montage from “The Crimson Wing: Mystery of the Flamingos” set to the original score. The video repeats itself after completion.
“The Crimson Wing: Mystery of the Flamingos” comes with a DVD version of the feature film which is presented in 1:85:1, widescreen. Audio in English, French and Spanish 5.1 Dolby Digital Surround Sound and subtitles in English, English SDH and Spanish. Also, included is a slipover cover case.
I have to admit that flamingos have always been a curiosity of mine. They are mysterious I had the opportunity to watch them during the mating process and also to watch baby flamingos being raised at our local zoo.
“The Crimson Wing: Mystery of the Flamingos” was such an amazing film to watch because I have never known about the phenomenon at Lake Natron. Also, I was unaware of how flamingos turned red and that hundreds of thousands arrive just to mate and thousands give birth. Also, was unaware of how the salt deposits are literally the nesting grounds for the baby flamingos. It was quite fascinating to watch how these babies were born, especially how the babies were fed and without spoiling the film, needless to say, I was shocked by that. Definitely a much different perspective compared to a penguin or other birds featured in other nature-based documentaries.
But possibly the biggest shock was the threat to the flamingos by the Maribou storks. These storks are just the ugliest birds I have seen and the way they are portrayed in the film is rather villainous. We watch as these storks prey on the small chicks, just snapping its neck with their beaks and leaving them to fall and die and go back to them later. They go up to the nest and crack open the shells and leave. Almost like nature’s bullies, they are their to prey on the defenseless flamingos (I was expecting the flamingos as a herd to fight back but I am guessing that they are not a defensive bird at all).
But I was amazed to see how also the salt also affects the baby flamingos as during birth when they are with the parent, when the parent leaves to get food, the babies are left alone and wander around the sodium rich lakes and some unfortunately have excess salt deposits around their legs that these salt deposits start to become like cement and render the birds unmovable that they die.
This is the way of nature and how it’s been probably for however long these flamingos have lived on the planet. But at the same time, although the film never gets into the politics of how humans are affecting their habitat (until right before the final credits), the truth is that because these lakes are full of sodium, companies are looking at the lake as a way to profit to make soap, medical and glass products and of course, we have those who are trying to defend the bird’s habitats and humans from destroying them and those who just want to make money from the sodium deposits and are threatening the habitat of the flamingos.
“The Crimson Wing: Mystery of the Flamingos” is fascinating, entertaining and enjoyable. On Blu-ray, the film looks absolutely great in HD and also, surround sound was well-incorporated to its lossless soundtrack. And the musical score by the Cinematic Orchestra was wonderful.
But I have to say that as much as I enjoyed the film, like many nature films which showcase animals in the wild, we know that life is changing for these animals. Population increases are driving these animals from their home and nearly driving various species to become extinct and in the flamingo’s case, you take away the sodium which is needed for the birth of these flamingos and you literally are decreasing their population. And already, we have learned that flamingos are disappearing in other regions where they once had flocked to by the hundreds of thousands.
“The Crimson Wing: Mystery of the Flamingos” is a fantastic nature film and I’m so happy to see DisneyNature focusing on a certain animal vs. many different species, because the film really gave us tremendous insight on flamingos. The film does try to incorporate a storyline of a young flamingo who tries to survive from birth to becoming a full-fledged flamingo but with literally thousands of birds that look the same, it’s kind of hard to believe that the viewer is watching the same bird over the course of however long the filmmakers were at Lake Natron.
But the story of the one flamingo is not a major part of the entire film, the film is more about the flamingos who come to Lake Natron, to mate, give birth, showing how these little flamingos survive (and die) and what challenges await them in the wild. Once again, this is a fascinating nature film.
Overall, if you are a nature fan especially if you have an interest in flamingos, DisneyNature’s “The Crimson Wing: Mystery of the Flamingos” is definitely a film worth watching and also owning on Blu-ray. Definitely recommended!
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