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Winged Migration (2001)
"Le peuple migrateur" (original title)

G  |   |  Documentary  |  29 August 2003 (USA)
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Ratings: 8.0/10 from 10,087 users   Metascore: 82/100
Reviews: 153 user | 99 critic | 34 from

Documentary on the migratory patterns of birds, shot over the course of three years on all seven continents.

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Nominated for 1 Oscar. Another 6 wins & 13 nominations. See more awards »



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This documentary introduces the viewer of "Winged Migration" to the people behind what its makers call "the tale," a combination of fiction and truth. The movie was storyboarded and the ... See full summary »

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Credited cast:
Philippe Labro ...
Narrator (English version)
Narrator (voice)


This documentary follows several species of migratory birds over a four year filming period. These birds travel several hundreds if not thousands of miles toward the equator in the autumn, and make the return journey to their higher latitude summer homes in the spring, always taking the same route, using the natural compasses of the universe, the stars, to find their way. Some species, like the arctic tern, even fly from pole to pole. These long and often torturous treks are a matter of survival, to live in a hospitable climate and find sources of food. With the exception of migratory penguins, travel over oceans is especially difficult as the birds have little refuge unless there is something floating on the water, such as a ship, on which to land. Otherwise they must continue flying until they reach land. Some will not survive the migration due to predators, including man, illness or injury. Although the migrations themselves are done as a community, once the birds reach their ... Written by Huggo

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Plot Keywords:

bird | migration | arctic | ocean | flight | See All (123) »




G | See all certifications »

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| | | |



Release Date:

29 August 2003 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Winged Migration  »

Box Office


FRF 160,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend:

$2,402,605 (France) (14 December 2001)


$10,762,178 (USA) (12 December 2003)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs



Sound Mix:



Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?


Filmmakers exposed the eggs of some of the birds to the sounds of people and film cameras so that the birds would not be afraid of them later. See more »


[first lines]
Narrator: The story of bird migration is the story of promise - a promise to return.
See more »


Featured in Le peuple migrateur - Le making of (2002) See more »


La Forêt Rouge
Performed by Robert Wyatt
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User Reviews

A magnificent movie experience
27 November 2003 | by (Oakville, Ontario) – See all my reviews

Watching Jacques Perrin's Winged Migration I felt incredibly cheated. I felt cheated out of the fact that I didn't get the chance to see this remarkable film at my locale theatre where the images would be displayed in a much larger venue.

Winged Migration is an astonishing achievement. With the help of 450 individuals, including 17 pilots and 14 cinematographers, directors Jacques Perrin, Michael Debats and Jacques Cluzaud, bring to life the migrating habits of a variety of birds throughout the world.

We learn of the red-crowned crane that flies 600 miles from the far east to the Siberian taiga, the sandhill crane that flies 2000 miles from the Central American Plains to the Arctic circle, and the bald eagle that flies 1800 miles from the American West to Alaska, just to name a few. But it is how we learn from these creatures that is pure cinematic symphony. The three directors took 4 years to film Winged Migration and used everything from gliders, planes, helicopters and balloons to get close enough to the flying birds that you would actually think you are one of them. The scene of the Canadian Geese migrating is photographed so magnificently through the Grand Canyon that we can see the reflection of the formation on the stilled morning waters without the simplest distraction of man.

Winged Migration is filled with such imagery. Not soon will I forget the greater sage grouse in Idaho where the birds have expanding chests and have tail-feathers that look as sharp as a porcupine's quills. Nor will I soon forget the scenes where millions of king penguins take over a coastal island or the countless birds diving into the water with such rapid fire like a multiple torpedo hit.

What is really amazing however, is how the filmmakers were able to show the birds in such a format as to give them personalities. We see the arrogance of the Canadian Goose, the fighting nature of the red breasted goose, the relentless tenacity of the captured Amazon parrot and the grieving king penguins after one of their young are eaten.

For all its glorious visuals, it is man that brings to the screen the most unnatural and catastrophic of images. Threshers on a farm destroy a habitat, hunters hide in the reeds and shoot down overhead geese and pollution and sludge take the life of a migrating red breast. It is hard to believe that the same species that could get close enough to these birds to follow them hundreds of miles, is also one of their greatest enemies.

Winged Migration should be seen on the large screen, but even on the tiniest of home entertainment units, you cannot help but marvel at the life cycle, the fight for survival and incredible long journey's these creatures embark upon twice a year. Three stars.

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No 'special effects' chrisyx
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filming techniques for Winged Migration sevgram
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