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Fly Away Home (1996)
I got sucked into a movie on the satellite dish the other day, 'Fly Away Home.' It's a story about a young motherless girl (Amy) who rescues some wild goose eggs and basically becomes their mother. The story evolves as the goslings grow into young adult birds ready to fly south. Since they never had parents the geese haven't learned to fly. The girl's dad thinks he can get them to fly by following him in his ultra-light. But they will only follow Amy. So dad teaches her to fly. Soon the geese are flying. Next, dad and Amy hatch a plot to fly south and have the geese follow them. We know this actually happened when 2 scientists did something similar.
One of the reasons I was sucked into this wonderful family movie was the photography. It is National Geographic quality. In fact I was so impressed with the cinematography that I had to look up who did it: Caleb Deschanel. The setting, a farm in Southern Ontario, allowed him to become intimate with the geese and the natural setting. Another reason I couldn't stop watching the movie was the stunning performance by Anna Paquin, the 16-year old girl who played Amy. I remembered her from the movie, 'Piano.' She played Flora, the daughter of Holly Hunter. I'm sure they picked Paquin to do that part because of her speaking ability. Holly Hunter played the part of Ada, a woman who couldn't talk. She communicated with sign language through her daughter. Paquin was so good in her part that she won the Oscar, quite a feat for an 11-year old.
The story, 'Fly Away Home' is touching because she's not the kind of Hollywood-trained child actor you find in most movies. A surprising thing happened as I watched Amy and her geese. I could sense a startling serenity from her as the bond had developed between them. I wondered how she could manage that. She was only a 16-year old actress then but she conveyed a mothering instinct that goes back to the ageless beginnings of life on this planet. When the goslings were following her around, much of the photography was from ground level. Later when they were all flying, the photography was right there in the flying formation. You were seeing the birds, in flight, right next to you. The beauty of motion was unbelievable. I thought, 'How could anyone shoot these creatures?' There is beauty in seeing them fly. There is beauty in seeing them in their habitat. But the overwhelming beauty is in their living. They deserved that life. It made me think of this sad planet and the billions of creatures that have died because of the human race. Here was a story that went against the slaughter. When Amy and her birds arrived at their destination in Chesapeake Bay I had misty eyes.
So I'm a soft touch.