There are some filmmaking teams that invariably bring out the best in each other, and that's definitely the case with director Carroll Ballard and cinematographer Caleb Deschanel. They previously collaborated on The Black... more » Stallion and Never Cry Wolf, and Fly Away Home is their third family film that deserves to be called a classic. Inspired by Bill Lishman's autobiography, the movie tells the story of a 13-year-old girl (Anna Paquin) who goes to live with her estranged, eccentric father (Jeff Daniels) following the death of her mother. At first she's withdrawn and reclusive, but finds renewed happiness when she adopts an orphaned flock of baby geese and, later, teaches them to migrate using an ultralight. Sensitively directed and stunningly photographed, the movie has flying sequences that are nothing short of astonishing, and Daniels and Paquin (Oscar winner for The Piano) make a delightful father-daughter duo. (Ironically, the digital video disc is not available in widescreen format, but the image quality is brilliant.) --Jeff Shannon« less
Chris K. Wilson | Dallas, TX United States | 02/25/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
"The multiple chords struck by Carrol Ballard's heartbreaking work "Fly Away Home" are so universal, it is difficult to imagine a person of any gender or any age not being touched in some way by this genuine family film. Make no doubt, "Fly Away Home" is a true classic, timeless in beauty yet timely in theme. So many subjects are tackled, from estranged family dynamics to environmental messages, it is difficult to fully grasp this film's important impact from just one viewing. Each time I view this movie, I come away with new ideas, and a new hope for our common man and woman.Film director Carrol Ballard has achieved such lofty heights before with his debut film "The Black Stallion" and his stunning follow-up "Never Cry Wolf." Amazingly, he has once again climbed to the top of a very high mountain with "Fly Away Home." The story is anything but simple, but its a tale of a mother, lost in a car accident, thereby forcing the reunion of a daughter and estranged father. He's an eccentric Canadian, living in the country, working on multiple sculptures and experimenting with flying machines. She's a lost soul, seemingly homeless without the guidance of her late mother. Yes, father (Jeff Daniels) and daughter (Anna Paquin) bond, but it's due to the nature which surrounds their rural homestead. In this case, an orphaned flock of geese Paquin raises from birth after the destruction of their natural habitat by encroaching development.Paquin's character becomes a surrogate mother for these geese, and eventually she must learn to fly to enable the lost birds to travel south for the winter. Daniels accompanies his daughter out of love, and eventually understanding that this has become a rite of passage for his budding, maturing teenage girl. And somewhere along the way, a girl becomes a woman, and a father becomes a man.Much of the credit for "Fly Away Home" goes to the brilliant cinematographer Caleb Deschanel, who also worked with Ballard on "The Black Stallion" and "Never Cry Wolf." Certainly the musical selection of Mary Chapin Carpenter's haunting "10,000 Miles" is an inspirational if not brilliant choice. But the story is the key, and during a time of changing family dynamics amidst a society of shrinking nature, I can't imagine a film utilizing both themes with such skilled and relevant ease."Fly Away Home" is such an important film, not only because a female protagonist breaks away from traditional bonds to find herself (no boy and his dog here), but because a self-centered man/father overcomes his weaknesses to find not only himself, but the person/daughter/child who defines his soul. "Fly Away Home" is about us finding our spirit during a trying time of divorce and misguided independent values. By bonding with the land, and as importantly with our family, we find our true spirit.And finally, "Fly Away Home" will bring a tear to the most hardened spirit, causing us to hug the ones we love, human or animal. Is that not the purpose of art - film, book, music or otherwise? I have applauded Carroll Ballard before. After "Fly Away Home," I not only applaud this extraordinarily gifted director, I salute him."
Ya gotta love it. Instant classic
Peggy Vincent | Oakland, CA | 12/02/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
"There's not a bad character in this movie, except for the animal control official who persists in locking up the geese. And Anna Paquin just keeps getting better and better and better. She's definitely a child actress who will NOT fade away as she matures.
Story (inspired by an autobiography) is based on a girl who, recently left motherless, is shopped to live with the eccentric dad (Jeff Daniels) she hasn't seen in years. And then she becomes surrogate mother to a flock of motherless goslings who insist on growing up into a flock of geese. Comes time for them to migrate south, and they won't go. The rest of the movie is the harebrained scheme of how the geese are taught to follow `Mom' in an ultralight. Beautifully and astonishingly photographed, this movie is an all around delight, a coming-of-age, a father-daughter bonding, a feel good story that is way more than the sum of its parts.
Ya gotta see it."
Lee Neville | London, ENGLAND | 04/28/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
""Fly Away Home" tells the story of Amy, a girl from New Zealand who has to stay with her father in Canada after her mother dies. During her time there she finds some goose eggs that later hatch. As soon as the geese hatch the first thing they see is Amy and so they imprint on her, thinking she is their mother. Due to the geese natural instinct to fly south, and the fact that they don't have their real mother to lead the way, Amy with the help of her father attempt to lead the geese south in their own hang gliders.This is a very simple story done well, helping to create a pretty much perfect family movie. Jeff Daniels as Amy's father and Oscar winning Anna Paquin as Amy are equally fantastic, and I'd also like to give a shout out to Terry Kinney as Amy's uncle who is really quite funny. The directing by Carroll Ballard is brilliant and the cinematography is breathtaking and makes you feel like you are flying with Amy, her Dad and the geese. Not to mention the truly inspirational score by Mark Isham that is helping us along on our journey.The DVD special features which although not necessarily entertaining are appropriately informative. And also, "Fly Away Home" has been digitally remastered and is presented in widescreen, so it's the best you'll see this movie. I suggest you fly to the store or internet terminal so you can buy this, before it flies off the shelves."
Blu-ray: A moving and enjoyable family film! Great performa
Dennis A. Amith (kndy) | California | 04/07/2009
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Before "Winged Migration", there was "Fly Away Home". A 1996 film which was loosely based on the 1995 autobiography "Father Goose" by Bill Lishman.
The film received positive reviews from many critics and audiences as the film would showcase a heartwarming tale primarily about family but something different was that this became the first Hollywood film to show the latest efforts in migration for birds and also introducing audiences to the concept of "imprinting". In other words, humans forming a bond with birds, geese when they are born and then raising them somewhat as a parent and then teaching them how to migrate and eventually increase their population away from harm.
Taking on the directorial role for "Fly Away Home" is Carroll Ballard, known for his work with films such as "The Black Stallion" and "Never Cry Wolf" joins writing team Robert Rodat ("Saving Private Ryan" and "The Patriot") along with Vince McKewin (television writer for many series such as "The A-Team", "Knight Rider", "Dallas"). Carroll Ballard known for his previous films that involve animals was back to directing a touching film about family, overcoming challenges and sticking together.
VIDEO & AUDIO:
"Fly Away Home" is presented in 1080p High Definition and with an aspect ratio of 1:85:1. As with most film created in the early-t0-mid-90's for Blu-ray releases, there is this softening effect that many tend to suffer from. With "Fly Away Home", one of the positive aspects of the picture quality is that the film is shot outdoors and thus, you get a sense of the beauty of nature with the lush green and red trees during the fall, the green scenery while the aircraft is in flight. Also, being in the air while the geese are flying. Very good outdoor shots and vibrant colors.
There is little softening effect during the indoor scenes but overall, picture quality is beautiful during the outdoors and many of the shots of the film are outdoors.
As for audio, audio is presented in English and French via Dolby TrueHD 5.1 and Spanish 5.1 (Dolby Digital). The film is primarily dialogue-based as the film is about conversations between father and daughter and daughter with family members. But one of the biggest showcase for "Fly Away Home" is the music from Mark Isham. Definitely creating a mood and the feeling of flight and beauty. Definitely well-incorporated to the Blu-ray and sounds great.
There is also good use of surround audio with the noise of the geese but overall the film is primarily a dialogue-driven film and the sound is quite clear coming from the front and center channels.
For the special features included on the Blu-ray for "Fly Away Home", the features are in standard definition with English (stereo) audio with optional Spanish subtitles. Features included on the Blu-ray disc are:
* Director & Cinematographer Commentary - Commentary track by Carroll Ballard and Caleb Deschanel as they talked about the filming of the geese in flight. Definitely a complicated film to shoot and finding the various locations to shoot the film and the ultra gliders was a challenge. A very good commentary for those interested in learning how everything came together for the film. * Operation Migration: Birds of a Feather Featurette - An 18-minute about Operation Migration. A company founded by Bill Lishman and Joe Duff in 1994, a non-profit charity organization and how they are migrating rare and endangered species in order to grow the population. The featurette introduces the various staff members and also, unlike the film and other countries which the birds are introduced to humans, the organization now wears costumes, so the birds will not think they are human. Very informative. * The Ultra Geese Documentary - A 49-minute documentary which the film "Fly Away Home" is based on. The documentary features Bill Lishman and Joe Duff testing to see if they can treat geese new migration routes through the use of their ultralight aircraft. Their goal is to restore the population of birds through new migration routes and showing us what actually really happened in their experience vs. what actually happened on the film. The experiences that Lishman and Duff faced such as imprinting, the use of the ultralight aircraft, having 18 birds with its leader Igor and losing Igor, having to contend with the Wildlife Bureaucratic Service and more. Very entertaining as Lishman and crew actually had a lot of footage of training the geese to flying with the geese and more. * HBO Making of: Leading the Flock Featurette - This 13-minute featurette showcases interviews with the director and the many talent involved in the film. Especially how everyone were quite impressed with Anna Paquin's performance in the film.
The Blu-ray is also BD-Live enabled.
"Fly Away Home" was definitely an enjoyable, heartfelt family film that touches upon the real life activity of Operation Migration and what they are doing to help restore endangered species of birds and helping them migrate. But what was even more remarkable was watching the cinematography of showing birds in flight and being so close to them. Granted, bird cinematography has since evolved since this 1996 film with the 2003 release of "Winged Migration" and also "Planet Earth" but considering the challenge of filming this scene, Director of Photography Caleb Deschanel successfully pulled it off. If anything, the nomination for "Best Cinematography" was definitely warranted.
As for Carroll Ballard, his name is known for hits such as the 1979 film "The Black Stallion" and 1983 film "Never Cry Wolf", films that deal with animals (which he followed up with his 2005 film "Duma" about an orphaned cheetah) and sure enough, a good director to take on the challenge for "Fly Away Home" and trying to create this bond between a young character with an animal, in this case, geese.
For younger talent, "Fly Away Home" definitely was a film that showcased Anna Paquin's talent as an actress. Having won an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress at the age of 11 (for the 1994 film "The Piano"), Paquin definitely brought a character with a lot of layers. A character having to deal with this new life, this father who she has never seen for years and then ultimately finding common ground thanks to her geese.
Jeff Daniels does a great job portraying Thomas, this inventor/naturalist with his shaggy beard and long hair but doing a great job of portraying a father who is not too sure if he can take care of his daughter. Credit to the writers who portrayed this family who really had nothing in common at first but eventually finding the common ground and eventually bonding through Thomas' love for flying and Amy's love for her geese and eventually, her becoming a pilot and sharing her father's enthusiasm.
The film also stars Dana Delany. Over a decade before her role currently in the TV series "Desperate Housewives", Delany was definitely known for her Emmy award winning work in the critically acclaimed Vietnam War television show "China Beach" during the late 80's and early 90's and a lot of her voice work for the Batman and Superman animated series.
Some may feel that Delany was under utilized in "Far Away Home" but nevertheless, despite a short role, an important role of portraying the girlfriend of Thomas and for her character as Susan trying to get close to his daughter Amy (Paquin).
If anything, the supporting actor who did shine in this film and definitely caught my attention was Terry Kinney as Thomas's brother David who brings a certain humor into the film as the uncle who is laid back but eventually comes up with major ideas to help the Thomas and Amy but most importantly, the geese.
"Fly Away Home" is a film that manages to hold up nearly 13 years later as a family film. On Blu-ray, for those interested in migration of birds will love that the Blu-ray does features two featurettes and one lengthy documentary on the actual story that the film is based on.
Especially knowing that certain things that happened in the film, happened in real life. For Bill Lishman who co-founded Operation Migration (and in real life was the man piloting the ultralight aircraft with the geese), the leader of the pack for his geese was Oscar and similar to the film, Oscar was separated from the pack and was lost but eventually found. But unlike the film where Oscar has a prominent part of being there with Amy during the flight, in real life, Oscar's return back to the pack of Geese was not an exactly enthusiastic return as the geese that he once lead turned against him. So, it was an interesting segment in the special feature showing the relationships of the geese.
So, my highlight was the documentary and also the informative special features included in this Blu-ray disc release and for those who enjoyed the 2003 film "Winged Migration", "Fly Away Home" was a film that definitely introduced many people to imprinting and new migration techniques. In fact, "Winged Migration" on Blu-ray is being releaased on the same day as "Fly Away Home" and Bill Lishman had some involvement with that film as well.
If I had any problems with the special features on the Blu-ray disc is that it doesn't include the isolated 5.1 Music Score with Composer Mark Isham's commentary which was included in the original 2003 DVD. The music was an important part of the film and I felt the DVD showing a tribute to Isham's music was awesome. But I was surprised it was omitted on the Blu-ray release. But regardless of the special feature not included, for Blu-ray fans, it's all about the picture and audio quality and "Fly Away Home" looks and sounds so much better via high definition that the Blu-ray version is the definitive version to own.
Overall, "Fly Away Home" is a touching, moving and enjoyable film about family and overcoming challenges. And the film manages to accomplish portraying the family bond between estranged father and daughter but also showcasing beautiful cinematography that really makes this family film worth watching."
Heartwarming, entertaining family film !
JME | 09/29/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Excellent family film, with comedy and excitement mixed with emotion. The music score of Mark Isham really captures the feelings and moods of the story. Great cinematography"