Flyways by Randall Wood [9/10]

A documentary that might be hard to source or watch, “Flyways: The Untold Story of Migratory Shorebirds” is an undiluted journey of astonishment. At one level a simple documentary about the miracle of long-distance bird migration over long-established aerial flyways, the movie transcends the usual wildlife documentary with superb, simple storytelling, astounding cinematography, impeccable pacing and control, and just-so narration. I was especially impressed with how the decision to follow three bird species, the Curlew, the Knot, and the Godwit up the three major flyways (Australia across Asia, north of Africa and then west across Russia, and South America up through the United States to Alaska), for the first time educating me on this amazing annual globe-straddling phenomenon. Artfully segueing between the three birds/flyways by following scientists and volunteers trying to track and understand the birds, and doing so composedly but capturing the ardor of these heroes, Randall Wood transcends the immediate “lesson about nature” to plea for a new consciousness in humans. In watching, one is amazed, then transported, then moved, and finally angered. Flyways is remarkable and deserves a much wider audience than it is likely to get.

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