Monday, December 17, 2012

Predator 2: hunting humans, not pigeons

Title: Predator 2
Year:  1990
Director:   Stephen Hopkins
Running time: 108 min.
Country: United States.

Mike Harrigan is an LAPD Lieutenant who is in search of an alien which is slaughtering city inhabitants. Dorinda Seed is a female pigeon from L.A. She and her folks had a nice day and now are getting some rest on a roof (a place that they call home). In this sequence, Dorinda and Mike's lives are going to cross dramatically.

Mike is chasing the predator on a roof. He is very nervous, because this creature is a monster which slaughtered several colleagues of his. An common man would escape running away, but Mike wants to fix this mess.

On the other side of the corner, we find Dorinda and her friends, that are scared and fly away (scaring Mike too).

This is a nice picture of the pigeon, captured with its legs and tail feathers fully extended. This situation is also dramatic for Dorinda. It is not nice for a pigeon to fly in the darkness and it is ever worse, if it is flying in the middle of a violent duel.

This is not a pigeon, but the predator firing at Mike:

We can observe than when Mike returns fire, there are other pigeons flying in the background.

Details of the pigeon starring 

  • Source: Predator 2. Starring moment: 1:19:39.
  • Pigeon activity: They are pigeons sleeping on a roof which are scared by a night duel between an L.A. policeman and an angry alien.
  • Symbolism: It is interesting to see how pigeons are used to scare the movie protagonist and increase the film's tension levels. This is a typical ploy used in many action movies.
  • Relevance: Low. Pigeons interfere with a human-alien duel, but they don't change the storyline.
  • Training level: High. It is not easy for a pigeon to fly with poor light conditions. Here, they exhibit a very good performance. 
Special thanks to Jen for suggesting this film.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Burning man: pigeons forming a backdrop to a drama

Title: Burning man
Year:  2011
Director:   Jonathan Teplitzky
Running time: 110 min.
Country: Australia

There are sad movies and cruel sad movies. One example of latter is Clint Eastwood's Million Dollar Baby. I think that it is nice film, but I didn't like it at all. When I left the cinema after watching it, I felt something like I had been suffering emotional torture with a plot which was specially designed to sadden the spectator. Is such a cruel story really necessary? Such is life, Eastwood would probably say, but this is not the point. The point is the aim of this film style: they write a deliberately cruel story in order to shock the spectator and increase the film's popularity.

Burning man belongs to this category. It depicts the sad life of Tom (Matthew Goode), a skillful chef who is specially enthusiastic about cooking sea food. His wife dies of cancer and left him alone with his son. This film consists of continuous flashbacks and flashforwards where his happy life with his wife (before the sickness) is interlaced with very sad scenes depicting her agony and his desperation. I think that this film shows too much drama. Anyway, it includes some interesting pigeon appearances: in a picnic organized by a group of families, Tom becomes hysterical and starts to destroy the picnic before the amazed stares of the onlookers.

In the middle of this devastation we can see several scared pigeons. Here there is a bird witnessing the picnic destruction.

And in the following images we can see several pigeons flying around the scene:

Details of the pigeon starring 

  • Source: Burning man. Starring moment:  0:54:29
  • Pigeon activity: They are common pigeons scared by a hysterical father who is flattening a picnic.
  • Symbolism: None, they are common pigeons.
  • Relevance: Low. Pigeons are used for increasing the level of drama. 
  • Training level: High. Very well trained animals that perform a perfect side flight in the scene.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Castaway On The Moon: leveraging pigeons for survival

Title: Kimssi pyoryugi (Kim's Island) - Castaway On The Moon
Year:  2009
Director:   Lee Hae-Joon (AKA Lee Hae-Jun)
Running time: 116 min.
Country: South Korea

This film is about a man stranded as a castaway on a deserted island and was a pleasant surprise for me. The story evolves very unexpectedly and I really enjoyed it. It contains many memorable funny scenes and a bizarre love story. Wait, wasn't he alone? The answer is a bit complex, so it is better to watch the movie.

I don't intend to write a review about this film. There are many blogs that do this job better than mine. This is a pigeon-centric blog so I'm only summarising here the human-pigeon interactions. There are actually several of these moments which are very interesting and funny. Before talking about them, let's firstly contextualize the scenes:

At the beginning of the story we find a starving castaway called Kim who is trapped on a desert island. What should he do when his stomach is demanding some immediate action? To try to take food from all the sources he can. And the sources are limited to a few options: some mushrooms, fish and some wild birds.... including an enjoyable (and nutritious) group of pigeons:

So, for Kim the answer is clear: it is necessary to hunt the pigeons (nothing personal, just hunger).

First attempt: hunting pigeons

The first attempt is quite straightforward: to prepare some kind of trap in order to attract and catch an innocent animal. In this case, he used an old pot, held by a stick attached to a cord. Some vegetables would attract the pigeon. The result: a complete fail (for him) and a happy ending for the lucky pigeon. Maybe this trap works for mice in cartoons, but not in real life.

Second attempt: the miraculous food poisoning


In the end, Kim finally caught some fish and could sleep with a full stomach. Meanwhile, a flock of pigeons descended to nose around the remains of dinner. Pigeons are vegetarian and they don't like to fly during the night, but in this case it seems that they are different to the usual ones.

What happened next was that that either the pollution in the fish or the fish itself was not good for the pigeons, and the next day, when Kim wakes up, he surprisingly finds a dead pigeon... extra food for him.

Third attempt: leveraging pigeon poo

Eating pigeons only provides a limited amount of food. Our protagonist discovered an indirect way for obtaining food from them: given that seeds are part of the pigeons' diet, some indigested seeds could be found in the pigeon's poo. Planting it would grow cereals, the best kind of food. Kim finally found a smart, sustainable and pigeon-friendly way of leveraging pigeons for survival.

Details of the pigeon starring 

  • Source: Kimssi pyoryugi- Castaway On The Moon. Starring moment: 0:23:13, 0:25:55, 0:44:32
  • Pigeon activity: They are wild pigeons which stay with a castaway on a insolated island. A very risky place for pigeons. 
  • Symbolism: There is no special symbolism in the movie.
  • Relevance: High. Thanks to the pigeon, the protagonist is able to get some food and survive in a lonely environment.
  • Training level: Medium. There are some very nice the scenes where the pigeons are staring at the protagonist. However, in the scene of the nocturnal pigeon visit, they descend in a very unnatural way, clearly showing that they are thrown by a pigeon specialist.

Friday, November 16, 2012

The big stuff

Here we start a new section in this Blog: the pigeon appearances in advertisements. It is very interesting to see how companies use pigeons to encourage us to buy certain products.

The first advertisement  is a Fedex ad which shows us the distribution center of a company that uses carrier pigeons for distributing its products. In the advertisement we can see an office full of pigeons (it is very funny to see all the pigeon cross flights):

We can also see a state-of-the-art carrier pigeon equipped with GPS and night vision:

... and giant pigeons (genetically modified?) used for distributing heavy packages - these birds have a quite uncontrolled behaviour.

The ad can be seen here. A great spectacle.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

The most hated characters

Last summer's survey about the most hated characters ended in a draw between two baddies: Sandy Bates, from Stardust memories and Silas from How High. My condolences to them.
Sandy Bates is a first class pigeon maniac and anti-pigeon propaganda maker. He is specially hated for spreading the expression -rats with wings- which currently is widely used when referring to pigeons. Links: post, video
Silas is a cruel pigeon murderer. He planned and executed the worst pigeon massacre even recorded in a film: he fed pigeons with a mix of laxatives and birdseed that make them blow up. Links: post, video

The most beloved film character

According to the survey presented last summer the old beggar woman from Mary Poppins was chosen as the most beloved film character. Congratulations, Mrs. Grandma.

This woman sells bags of breadcrumbs on the steps of Saint Paul's Cathedral. She has everything pigeons like: tenderness, food provisions and close contact. For this commendable action pigeons will love her forever.

Links: post, video