Stunning cinematography makes this film a memorable viewing experience
I have seen quite a few films dealing with the interaction between wildlife and man in the natural environment, and then I am not talking about wildlife documentaries, which seem to get better and better as new photographic techniques are developed. The classic 'Born Free' of 1966, and another film with African background, 'Duma' of 2005 come to mind. And then there is the excellent 'Entrelobos' ('Among Wolves') of 2011. Last night I watched another film in this genre, 'Wie Brüder im Wind' ('Brothers of the Wind'), and found that it compares well with others in this genre.
High in the spectacular Hohe Tauern part of the Austrian Alps, we see how a pair of golden eagles rears two chicks on a narrow rocky ledge, and as is typical with large birds of prey, the stronger of the two chicks forces the weaker one from the nest. The chance that the weaker chick would survive is rather slim, but it is in luck. Fortunately it has not fallen to its death; vegetation cushioned its fall and the bird landed safely on the ground at the foot of the cliff below the nest. Furthermore, shortly thereafter a boy, Lukas, (Manuel Camacho) finds the young bird before predators could get hold of it, and decides to rear it.
Through the narrator, a forester called Danzer (Jean Reno), we get to know Lukas, who lives high in the mountains with his father (Tobias Moretti). Quite early on it becomes clear that the relationship between Lukas and his father is strained; the lad does not speak to his dad, and more often than not hides away in a derelict house, where he lives in his own world. A sympathetic Danzer decides to help the boy and gives advice on how to rear the young raptor.
Can you build a film on such a slim narrative with only three main human characters? Well, after watching the movie, it is clear that you can successfully do so. The main emphasis of the film is on the life of the golden eagle, who against the odds and setbacks survives and grows into adulthood. The growing up of the eagle becomes a metaphor of the coming of age of Lukas, who also has obstacles to overcome.
The strong point of this film is without doubt the astonishing cinematography. The wildlife photography, particularly the action shots and the lingering landscape footage are literally breathtaking. The soundtrack is great too. The actors all do a fine job. Special mention must be made of Manuel Camacho, who seems to have a knack for excelling in wildlife films. He was justly nominated for a Goya Award, and won the Spanish Actors Newcomer Award for his acting in 'Entrelobos'.
I score this lovely film a high 8/10.
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