The Crimson Wing (U)

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The ViewLondon Review

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Review byMatthew Turner24/09/2009

Three out of Five stars
Running time: 77 mins

Beautifully shot nature documentary that thankfully steers clear of anthropomorphism and doesn't sugar-coat the less palatable details, though it's relatively short on facts and you long for a dash of Attenborough at times.

What's it all about?
Directed by Matthew Aeberhard and Leander Ward, The Crimson Wing is the first production from Disney's new wildlife arm, Disneynature. Narrated by Mariella Frostrup, the film documents the breeding, feeding and child-rearing habits of the lesser flamingos that colonise Tanzania's inhospitably salty Lake Natron.

That's pretty much it. We see the flamingos undergoing mating rituals (including a spectacular dance sequence that could have come out of Fantasia), learn that the birds' plumage is enhanced by their diet of nourishing red algae and witness the twin threats posed to baby flamingo chicks by a) predatory Marabou storks and b) claggy salt deposits that act like concrete boots and prevent the chicks from moving around.

The Good
Aeberhard and Ward's incredible camerawork captures some staggeringly beautiful sequences, most notably the dance sequence mentioned above and an early travelling shot of a group of flamingos flying above their own perfect reflections in the completely still, heavily salty lake beneath them. In addition, the film deserves credit for its refusal to anthropomorphise the flamingos by bolting on a cutesy, March of the Penguins-style plot (see also: The Meerkats, Arctic Tale).

Similarly, the filmmakers also deserve praise for refusing to sugar-coat the harsh realities of the flamingos' existence, though the stork attack scenes and salted chick leg scenes may prove too upsetting for younger viewers.

The Bad
The main problem is that, despite the presence of Mariella Frostrup's husky voiceover, there's actually very little narration and thus very little in the way of actual scientific fact, to the point where you long for a dash of David Attenborough. On top of that, although there's an impressive score and the images are undeniably gorgeous to look at, you do suffer from a bit of flamingo overload by the end (imagine someone showing you their 77-minute flamingo-themed screensaver) and it's actually a bit of a relief when another creature shows up, even if it is the deadly, flamingo-eating Marabou stork.

Worth seeing?
The Crimson Wing is a stunningly beautiful nature documentary with some truly incredible images, but the film is more concerned with spectacle than fact and the narration is disappointing.

Film Trailer

The Crimson Wing (U)
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Content updated: 22/07/2018 17:13

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