And the bush has friends to meet him, and their kindly voices greet him, In the murmur of the breezes and the river on its bars,
And he sees the vision splendid of the sunlit plains extended, And at night the wonderous glory of the everlasting stars.

Banjo Paterson (1889)

Thursday, April 19, 2012

The Big Year

Most birders have by now probably seen the movie, The Big Year, released officially in November in Australia. Some saw it earlier on airline flights and some may have obtained 'copies' on the internet, as many people now do unfortunately. The reason I say unfortunately, as in this case the movie was a flop and lost millions of dollars, money that won't be partially recovered from DVD sales, due to the many illegal copies out there. This I think will result in Hollywood saying, never make a 'birder' movie again!

This would be a shame, as I think it was a good movie and one that grows on you the more you watch it. This is the reason for this blog post, having watched it again recently, I enjoyed the movie even more and think it's one of those in our collection that we will be able to watch over and over again.

The original story came from the book by Mark Obmascik, if you want to read the outline of the story from the book, please see the review at Booklog of the Bristol Library. Of course Hollywood changed the names and some of the story, but as the review said, 'the spirit remained true'.

I think one of the reason the movie didn't rate very well with the general public, is the video trailer shows it as a comedy, as well as having the three big stars, Steve Martin, Jack Black and Owen Wilson, you would expect some type of slapstick comedy. The movie does have comedy, but often it's subtle and the film tends to focus on relationships, competition and the costs of obsessive birding.

I think the other reason the movie wasn't 'a hit' was, well it's about birding! To us birders a lot of what occurs in the movie is fairly normal to what we do, but to the general public (and most of our friends) it's just weird. Birders are generally viewed as only one notch above train-spotters!

I'd say if you haven't seen it yet, go see it, or if you have, watch it again sometime. No, I have no shares in the movie or vested interests. I just think it's a shame that many birders and others have knocked the movie, a movie that finally give a view to outsiders of the fun and passion many of us birders have!

For more info, see The Big Year on Wikipedia.

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