Thursday, 15 May 2014

"Fly Away Home" on BLU RAY – A Review Of The Beautiful 1996 Carroll Ballard Movie

Here is a link to AMAZON UK to get this beautiful film on BLU RAY at the best price:

"…Rocks May Melt…Seas May Burn…" – Fly Away Home on BLU RAY

It begins in New Zealand with windscreen wipers washing away rain. A mother in her mid thirties is driving her 13-year old daughter home at night to Pukekohe. Amy Alden (Anna Paquin) is listening to music on her headphones - smiling lovingly at her cool mum who looks over at her spirited girl with pride. But as a beautiful and inspirational piano theme plays ("10,000 Miles" by Mary Chapin Carpenter – a Robbie Burns poem put to music) – a truck approaches just when Mummy is taking an ill-timed mobile phonecall. She swerves fast to avoid the oncoming juggernaut but flips the car in doing so. It rolls to a shattered stand still – paramedics pull only the injured Amy from the wreckage. Her father Thomas then comes all the way from Ontario to bring his traumatized daughter home (they parted when she was three).

Thomas Alden (Jeff Daniels) is an upbeat force – a self-made man – a Canadian dreamer, sculptor and madcap inventor – obsessed with flight, hang gliders and ultralight trikes (he’s even built an exact replica of the Moon Lander in his barn because the Earth no longer has one). And where Dad lives is beautiful – rural woodland and rolling hills surrounds his farmstead. But developers covet the land and one-day after bulldozers have illegally knocked down trees and natural habitat – Amy is out surveying the carnage. She spots a batch of goose eggs thrown by the dozers that haven’t hatched yet. Gathering all 16 in a pouch – she carefully places them in a disused cabinet in the hay barn – using straw as a bed and her mother’s old clothes as wraps. To keep them warm in the closed wooden drawer - she steals one of Dad’s old mobile lamps (when he’s not looking) and then hops the yellow bus to school. Busy sculpting a commission of a bronze Dragon – Dad hasn’t noticed the deep bond that’s going on in the barn. But then they hatch into goslings and soon the little fuzzballs are all over the kitchen table squawking, eating, pooping and following Amy wherever she goes.

As they grow – Dad realizes he’s at sea with those gorgeous but needy creatures – so he seeks advise. A local sheriff who knows something of their habits comes calling and explains. 'Imprinting' means that Canadian Wild Geese will follow anything and anyone they see after their born and presume them to be their mother. They migrate South each year come late Fall to the wetlands for warmth and abundant food (as they’ve done for millennium). Their mother will show them the way and they’ll return in the spring to the exact same spot. Unfortunately as per the law – domestic birds must have their wings clipped so they don’t fly away. But when Glen tries to engage in the act of 'pining' as per Ordinance 9314 – Amy goes berserk and hits him with a frying pan.

Dad, his lovely girlfriend Susan (Dana Delany), the recently arrived brainbox Uncle Dave (Terry Kinney) and local mechanical help Barry (Holter Graham) all now collude. Inventor Thomas realizes that as the geese fly at 31 miles per hour and view Amy as their mother – they could theoretically follow her in a specially modified ultralight. So the building of small planes and the imprint training of the geese begin in earnest for the arduous marathon ahead. Soon the Canadian media and even the military at Niagara Air Force Base become involved as the now 14-year old Amy engages in her epic 5000-mile flight home with Igor (one who has difficulty flying), chaperone Dad in a second ultralight trailing behind and the other 15 birds flying alongside "Mama Goose". They become a cause celebre and Amy an environmental hero…

It’s hardly surprising that Caleb Deschanel won the Oscar for cinematography – because "Fly Away Home" is a looker to say the least. As you can imagine the up close and personal shots of hatching chicks and fluffy mites would melt a heart of stone. Fully extended wingspans of gracious birds landing in slow motion on spring ponds, glorious Canadian dawns as Dad tries out his latest whacko flying machine, aerial shots that look down on Amy’s imitation goose ultralight with Autumn coloured terrain below as her trusting flock accompany her home – gorgeous stuff. Even a memory of Mum pushing Amy on the swing in the barn is beautifully rendered.

The American 2009 BLU RAY (Barcode 0433962955346) is REGION ABC (Region Free) so no compatibility issues for any buyers. The picture is fabulous and combined with Mark Isham’s sweeping score – the effect is magical in a truly cinematic way. It’s defaulted to 1.85:1 - Full Screen Aspect Ratio  - giving you the full visual whack. The Audio offers English, French and Spanish Dolby TrueHD 5.1 while the Extras include pieces on the autobiography of Bill Lishman (who actually did fly with geese in his tiny biplane), interviews with the principal actors and Californian Director Carroll Ballard discussing how he worked with Robert Rodat and Vince McKewin on the adapted screenplay. It’s pleasingly indepth and newly informative – even after you’ve watched the film.

But this would all amount to naught if the movie didn’t work on a deeply parental level – and "Fly Away Home" does. I saw this at the cinema and there were mums and dads clutching their kids and bawling like big girl’s blouses. By the time Mary Chapin Carpenter’s stunning musical rendition of “10,000 Miles” returns (it’s on her 1998 hits CD "Party Doll And Other Favorites") as Amy nears her destination with thousands waiting anxiously for her to appear on the horizon – resistance is utterly futile (lyrics from it title this review). I’ve seen family films get to the parents before - "Wall-E", "Despicable Me" and even Disney's remake of "The Parent Trap" – but never quite like this.

"You've been a friend to me…" Mary Chapin Carpenter sings - with words that reach into your soul.

Buy this gorgeous family movie on BLU RAY (where it deserves to be) and find out why it’s lovely story of redemption has touched the hearts of millions…

Amazon UK reference is B001QMCJ1Y

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