Last night I watched the 2nd Disneynature film (my 3rd review) called The Crimson Wing and found myself getting emotional over the plights of flamingos. Yep, this movie really got to me more than either of the Disneynature films I have seen (Monkey Kingdom and Earth).
Unlike Earth which split its time between 3 animal families Crimson looks at a species of flamingos that inhabit a series of lakes in Tanzania. These lakes have bizarre properties which happen to be just right for flamingos. The movie approaches their entire existence as a ‘mystery’ and lays out the pieces of how they are able to survive .
It starts out with drinking in the red algae. The water looks red with the algae and that is what makes the flamingos pink. It’s so different and beautiful and the cinematography throughout is stunning. I can’t imagine how many hours in a boat or sitting out on blazing hot salt flats they must have done to get some of their shots. They also don’t resort too time lapse as a gimmick like they did in Earth. This feels like a man standing in the water with a camera watching things happen. Amazing.
I don’t think I’ve ever heard of a place that changes so rapidly. The sun is so hot that large sections of the lake dry up and there remains red salt beds that the flamingos use to nest. It was really fun to learn about a place that was completely foreign to me. I’ve never heard of these lakes and they were so different than any other natural phenom I’ve ever seen. I mean look at this crazy weird lake in the photo below.
The narration read by Mariella Frostrup (who sounded to me like Cate Blanchett) tries to give a haunting quality and tell a mystery and sometimes it works and other times it feels very cheesy like we are touring Middle Earth instead of Tanzania. Where it does work is the sections involving the little baby chicks that are sooo cute!
But wait there is evil about! (literally in the movie the predator is referred to as the Wicked Witch of the lake). There are the villainous marabou who I sincerely hated so much. They were so creepy and stood around the pack waiting for the little birds to get separated and pounce!
You probably think I’m joking but I was upset for the little chicks . The way they do it is very absorbing. They show the little chicks who aren’t strong enough get ‘shackles of salt’ around their little legs and they try to walk away from the marabou but the salt weighs them down.
Some are so weighed down when the group leaves the lake they can’t keep up and are left. The film shows them trying to get up and then falling and I was seriously upset! A side of me wanted to yell at the filmmakers and tell them to help the bird and get that salt off but I guess that isn’t their job. I may have even shed a tear….
The flamingos are stunning and the team does a great job showing the scope of the thousands of birds and then time with one or two although they are not given names like Maya in Monkey Kingdom nor do we see a real social structure like MK has.
When the chicks are a little bigger they move to a more traditional part of the lake and there we get evil spotted hyenas picking off the weak and elderly birds!
Some are killed and their bones are left to become part of the red lake and the salt when it changes again and the flamingos migrate elsewhere. It shows these bones of the bird through time and the little chick with the salt shackles that are left behind.
Of the 3 Disneynature films I’ve seen Crimson Wing is my favorite. I was so absorbed in the story of these flamingos and their lake which changes so rapidly. There were moments watching it that I was legitimately concerned even sad at the plight of the salt shackled chicks and the mean marabou.
Very sensitive kids (or adults…) might get a little upset at these scenes and the way the narration and music build milk all the emotion they can out of them.
Here is the trailer:
The music is listed as ‘by The Cinematic Orchestra and Claseria” and it is very good. In fact, they said in my reading that pieces of the orchestration have been used in other movies as recently as The Theory of Everything.
I think most kids will find Crimson Wing fascinating and engaging and adults will get drawn in as well. I’m surprised I had never even heard of it because it was great! It’s just such an interesting lake with its beautiful birds and their cute little chicks. If you loved March of the Penguins you will ove this. It’s great!
Overall Grade- A+ Marabou however are now part of my Disney villains!. 😉