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Amy is only 13 years old when her mother is killed in an auto wreck in New Zealand. She goes to Canada to live with her father, an eccentric inventor whom she barely knows. Amy is miserable in her new life...that is until she discovers a nest of goose eggs that were abandoned when developers began tearing up a local forest. The eggs hatch and Amy becomes "Mama Goose". The young birds must fly south for the winter, but who will lead them there? With a pair of ultralight airplanes, Amy, her dad and their friends must find a way to do it... Written by
Martin Lewison <email@example.com>
The greatest challenge any of us will ever face is how to regain the ability to reach for joy after the loss of a loved one. Especially, when that loss is abrupt and occurs at an age before one has developed the capacities to manage it. That is the over-arching and powerful theme that "Fly Away Home" manages to evoke so beautifully.
It's difficult to pin-point which of the masterfully developed elements of filmmaking that make this movie such a joy to watch again and again. But, surely, it all comes down to the great story-telling ability of Mr. Carol Ballard. Everything is harnessed to tell the story (a basic element of drama surprisingly ignored these days in Hollywood) of a girl who loses her mother at a critical point in her life, and has to find a way to the rest of her life, while reeling from the trauma and uncertain of how to survive her grief.
The discovery of an abandoned nest of Canadian geese eggs is the simple overlaying metaphor that takes us on her journey. The great difference between this movie and other movies of its type is that Mr. Ballard resists the temptation to explicate the transcendent story of Amy's emotional triumph over her loss and grief. Simply put, the story is about the geese, but it's really about Amy's recovery and reconnection with her future, with her life, though there isn't one line of dialogue explaining that to the viewer. It seeps out of the story through the masterful, chekovian performances of Anna Paquin as Amy and Jeff Daniels as her father. This theme is supported with such unerring consistency in the music (Mark Isham at his most sublime), the cinematography, editing, lighting, art direction and casting. All of the casting is just perfect. Especially in the sense that none of the actors ever seem to be pulling anything out of their "bag of tricks" or doing some bit you've seen them do before. The quality of the work is such that much of the dialogue in the movie seems spontaneous and almost ad libbed. The final sequence is a thing of sublime, subtly powerful beauty that is rarely seen in movies these days. A powerful, wordless climax. Something that happens so effortlessly, because the story that comes before has been told so completely and with such skill. I cry every time I watch it.
Thank you, Carol Ballard, for this beautiful gift of compassion and belief.
Note: Did Anna Paquin actually move from little girl to adolescent in the course of making this movie, or is it more of the master magicianry of Carol Ballard and his team?
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