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Winged Migration (2001)

Le peuple migrateur (original title)
1:56 | Trailer

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


Jacques Perrin, Jacques Cluzaud (co-director) | 1 more credit »


Jean Dorst (collaboration), Stéphane Durand | 4 more credits »
Nominated for 1 Oscar. Another 5 wins & 14 nominations. See more awards »



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Credited cast:
Philippe Labro Philippe Labro ... Narrator (English version)
Jacques Perrin ... 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




G | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »



France | Germany | Switzerland | Spain | Italy



Release Date:

29 August 2003 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Winged Migration See more »

Filming Locations:

Monument Valley, Arizona, USA See more »


Box Office


FRF 160,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend:

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

Opening Weekend USA:

$33,128, 20 April 2003, Limited Release

Gross USA:

$10,762,178, 14 December 2003

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$20,217,080, 6 November 2003
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs



Sound Mix:

DTS-ES | Dolby Digital EX



Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »

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 »


Referenced in Weeds: You Can't Miss the Bear (2005) See more »


Les Haras En Papier
("The Paper Parrot")
Music Composed and orchestrated by Bruno Coulais
(P) & © 2001 Galatée Films
See more »

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User Reviews

A magnificent movie experience
27 November 2003 | by gregsrantsSee 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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