The Crimson Wing: Mystery of the Flamingos
by Jef Burnham
Now available on Blu-ray and DVD from Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment.
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The Crimson Wing, from Disney’s wildlife studio Disneynature, is a truly enlightening documentary that focuses on the breeding and parenting of the gorgeous lesser flamingos on Tanzania’s Lake Natron. There, during the summer months, the lake’s waters evaporate, forming an incredible 10-mile wide island of salt on which the crimson-feathered flamingos raise their chicks during the first few weeks of their lives. Many comparisons can be drawn between to March of the Penguins, but what The Crimson Wing does that March does not is reveal how the miraculous origins of these flamingos would become mythologized.
The myth in question? That of the Pheonix. For every summer the flamingos, with their fiery wings descend into the salty wasteland at the center of Lake Natron, only to rise up again, their numbers renewed by the thousands. And seeing as the majority of us are unlikely to visit this highly volcanic/toxic area of Tanzania any time soon, we’ll have to settle for seeing the birth of these real-life Pheonixes at home in beautiful HD. Lake Natron and its surrounding landscape dotted with the crimson-winged flamingos are absolutely breath-taking on this full HD transfer. Furthermore, the film’s cinematography, which lyrically mirrors the flamingos’ almost choreographed movements, is accentuated perfectly not only by said pristine transfer, but by the film’s subtle musical accompaniment and unobtrusive narration by Mariella Frostrup.
Special features on the Blu-ray include Living Planet, a BD-Live feature that allows you to “explore the Earth with up-to-date facts, migration information and videos by the filmmakers and leading wildlife experts.” Also featured is an in-movie experience with facts from the filmmakers that pop up throughout the film, generally detracting from the experience of the feature as a whole and I really don’t recommend it. And finally, are 5 wonderful behind-the-scenes featurettes in Lake Natron Diaries: Behind the Crimson Wing. The special features on the solo DVD release are limited to the Lake Natron Diaries, but truthfully, that’s all you’ll really need feature-wise.
Jef Burnham is a writer and educator living in Chicago, Illinois. While waging war on mankind from a glass booth in the parking lot of a grocery store, Jef managed to earn a degree in Film & Video from Columbia College Chicago, and is now the Editor-in-Chief of FilmMonthly.com.
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