Thursday, March 29, 2012

Pigeon Street: pigeons for children

Title:Pigeon Street
Year: 1981
Director: Alan Rogers and Peter Lang
Running time: 15 min.
Country: United Kingdom

Pigeon Street is a pre-schoolers oriented television series which describes the life in a British city in and around Pigeon Street. It includes many characters related to different roles in society and it also includes pigeons... many pigeons. In the figure below we can see the main characters.

Pigeon Street characters and pigeons.
The contents of the series are politically correct, including for instance, Clara, a long distance lorry driver. Another interesting character is Bob. He is the owner of a bike shop who breeds homing pigeons. In the picture below we can see how after transporting pigeons in his motorbike (note the pigeon symbol on the helmet) he opens the basket and frees the pigeons which head back to their home. This is Bob's pigeon song -I really like the expression they feather the sky-.

Bob's pigeons are ever so clever
You'll never seen pigeons quite as clever as Bob's
Whatever the weather they feather the sky
to fly home and dry 
 home and dry
to Bob

Bob (behind the basket) frees the homing pigeons.

Homing pigeons cross the city heading back to their home.
The music is very remarkable. Most of the theme tunes can be downloaded from the Pigeon Street Official Site. This site also includes a list of episodes and characters. Another resource for music and character descriptions is Little Gems.

I would also like to mention the main theme of the series which is played at the intro. I don't understand why, but I have this song playing in my head all day long....
If you lived in Pigeon Street,
Here are the people you could meet,
Here are the people who would say
Hello, goodbye, hello, goodbye
Every day

If you lived in Pigeon Street,

Here are the people you could meet,
Here are the people who would share
the sights, the sounds, the air
Where pigeons beat their wings, wings beat.
Pigeons beat their wings, wings beat
to meet in Pigeon Street

Most of episodes are online. For instance, Noisy Neighbours can be seen here.

Details of the pigeon starring 

  • Source: Pigeon Street  Starring moment: in all the episodes
  • Pigeon activity: They are non-shy-friendly-urban pigeons which like to stay close to and interact with humans.
  • Symbolism: Pigeons are described as friendly animals that live together with humans. I think that this is a very positive message for children.
  • Relevance: Medium. Although several pigeons appear in each episode, they only occasionally feature in the plot. Usually they are relegated to secondary characters. 
  • Training level: Non applicable.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Pigeon Quest Award

We have the winner of the First Edition of Pigeon Quest!!

The winner is Chew, from Blogger. 

Here is the honorary certificate of being the winner in the First Edition of this quest.

Congratulations Chew!!!

Click on the image for a high resolution version

Chew: if you are interested in a printed copy of it, please, send me an email.

Special Issue: the Pigeon Whisperer

In the next Special Issue our team travels to the South of Germany, in a town close to Freiburg im Breisgau, on the border of the Black Forest. We are going to interview Mr. Jörg... it is said that he is a pigeon whisperer. We meet him in a forest close to his hometown. He comes dressed in a balaclava with two feathered friends. We felt a bit frightened so firstly I ask him: Why do you dress like that? Is it because of the cold?. No no, -he says- it is actually because of the pigeon droppings. I'm training Thomas Müller, who now is clumsily moving on my head. Mesut Özil (on my shoulder) is a well trained pigeon that is helping me during this exercise.  Are you using German football players' names? I ask. Yes, yes. I like football and why not combine them? We are surprised how Mesut Özilis stares at Mr. Jörg... just waiting for his command. Jörg takes off the balaclava. He is smiling and looks a friendly person... later we will discover that he is not nice at all because he uses pigeons for unethical purposes.

Jörg poses with Mesut Özil and Thomas Müller on his shoulder and head, respectively.

I invite him to tell us his story. Yes, of course -Jörg says smiling even more broadly-  I have liked pigeons since my childhood.... my father used to breed them. Then, a few years ago I enrolled in the German Army and served in Afghanistan. There, in our base, I met an Afghan man who breeds pigeons too. Pigeon breeding is a very old Afghan tradition but the Talibans banned it... if you like pigeons.... you could be killed as could all your birds.... terrible!!  Anyway, we discovered this hobby in common and we became friends. He tought me about an ancient technique for training pigeons.
Look at that!! he says as he opens the car's boot and a flock of pigeons flies out of it. Now they are heading back home -Jörg says- but look at this formation!!.  We saw the pigeons flying in a perfect V formation: four pigeons lead by a dove. It is awesome!! I said.

Can they form more complicated figures like a heart? -I naively ask- He became very upset: What do you think? That this is the Cirque du Soleil? I spent two years creating this formation.... I don't like to keep the pigeons in the boot because it is very disturbing for them but I did that to impress you and now all you say is that it is not enough? These are the all stars of the SC Freiburg football team!!! I'm Sorry -I said- I didn't know that. He smiled again... don't worry.... let's go to my base. We took the car....  Jörg was driving with Özil and Müller wandering around on the back seat.

When we arrive to his training camp I asked him about his motivation for doing this. Of course, -he says- I like pigeons but I train them for making profit. Unfortunately, my V formation service didn't have much success at weddings and birthday parties. Children usually like to see them flying and enjoy playing with the pigeons but their parents don't think the same.... all because of the bad reputation of pigeons.... if I had flamingos instead..... I would be rich now. I notice some sorrow in him.

Ok. I'm going to show you how I make money. He proudly says while he starts the car engine. He parked his car on one side of a small road and suddenly a pigeon dives very fast swooping down towards the car.... in an instant, without breaking its flight, it poops on the car and flies away.

Miroslav Klose striking the car.

What was that? I exclaimed. That was Miroslav Klose striking the car. But he left a super poo on it! I said. That's the point!!! Jörg said very proudly. Look now how Klose is checking his mess.... I call it double-checking.... if he had failed he would retry later!!!

The proof of Klose's strike.... we can observe him doing the double checking technique.

I don't get the point. I say. What is this for? Very easy: people that hate other people want to piss them off. I can train a striker that is able to poo on his/her car every single day.  My slogan is:
“It’s gonna be quick. It’s gonna be clean. Best of all…it’s gonna be quiet.” audio
Try to imagine that every single morning when you go to your work you receive this kind of present. And the most terrible thing is that it is impossible to prevent it. A real nightmare!!! Ahahaha!!!!

Now our team was completely scared. This man is a greedy bully! He is corrupting the harmless nature of pigeons for making money with evil intentions. We abruptly decided to conclude the interview. 

His last words were... I will train a Cristiano Ronaldo for you!!!

Lord of war: the pigeon witness of a dirty secret.

Title: Lord of war
Year: 2005
Director: Andrew Niccol
Running time: 122 min.
Country: United States

Yuri Orlov has a double life: on one hand, Yuri is a successful business man. On the other, he is a arms dealer. Yuri tries to hide his criminal life from his wife who, maybe because she is too naive, or because she doesn't care, is not aware of the ruffian life of her husband.  Yuri keeps all his illegal possesions in a secret storage container. In the following pictures we can see the container location.

Mr. Yuri approaches his secret place.
Inside of it we can appreciate all kinds of artefacts and false documents.

It is known that in a marriage, all the secrets are revealed sooner or later. Unfortunately for Yuri, his wife starts to suspect and goes there to discover the container's contents. While Yuri's wife is trying to unlock the container door, we can see a pigeon that stands close to her. This pigeon is a silent witness of this drama and shortly after, leaves the area flying way.

The pigeon witnesses the discovering of Yuri's secret.

Details of the pigeon starring 

  • Source: Lord of war  Starring moment: 1:35:33
  • Pigeon activity: It is the typical pigeon that we can find in any city. 
  • Symbolism: The pigeon is used to provide a more realistic urban atmosphere. I think that it is not achieved. Instead of this, a flock of active pigeons would provide more realism. 
  • Relevance: None. It doesn't alter the movie plot.
  • Training level: It is a non-well trained pigeon. Its performance is very bad because it seems to be very static and tense. Probably it doesn't understand what all these people are doing around and why they are pointing at it with these strange devices and lights. The presence of Bridget Moynahan doesn't contribute to easing the situation. All these facts contribute to unrealistic pigeon behaviour. This is called pigeon overacting. Mr. Andrew Niccol should be more careful the next time he films pigeons.

Scanner Cop: telepathy and pigeons

Title: Scanner Cop
Year: 1994
Director: Pierre David
Running time: 95 min.
Country: Canada

David Cronenberg wrote and directed Scanners, a low budget movie which obtained a notorious popularity. There are several sequels and one of them (the fourth) is Scanner Cop. I have to admit that Scanner Cop is not a first-line movie but it has pigeons, and that matters.

Los Angeles Police Department is being decimated by brain washed murderers. Sam Stazia is a police officer who uses his telepathic skills to discover who is behind this police-killing rampage. During one scene, he is desperately driving through Los Angeles, looking for the bad guy's place. What does he find driving down the street? L.A. Pigeons!! What would happen if Sam uses his skill for establishing a telepathic link with pigeons?

Mr. Sam Stazia is driving through Los Angeles.
Sam meets pigeons on the street.

Details of the pigeon starring 
  • Source:  Scanner Cop   Starring moment: 0:55:35
  • Pigeon activity: urban pigeons which are wandering around the road. 
  • Symbolism: They represent the typical pigeons that you can find in every city. They are used to increase the realism level of the scene. 
  • Relevance: None. They don't influence the movie storyline.
  • Training level: It is not clear whether they are wild or trained pigeons. Taking into account the movie budget I would say they are wild pigeons that they unexpectedly found during the recording.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Red Cliff: the trip of the spy dove

Title: Red Cliff
Year: 2009
Director: John Woo
Running time: 148 min.
Country: China

In War, never trust anything, especially innocent-looking doves. In China in 208 AD a force commanded by Cao Cao invaded the southern region controlled by an allied group of warlords. It is time for intelligence, and that means that it is time for pigeons... more specifically doves. Zhuge Liang is the strategist of the allied side. He sends a dove on a round trip. Its mission is simple: fly to the enemy camp, make contact with the allied spy and bring back critical information about the enemy. Mission impossible? Not for this well trained dove. John Woo has the predilection of including doves in his movies... in this case the pigeon performance is very important.

Zhuge Liang attracts the attention of the dove using birdseed.

Zhuge Liang frees the dove which starts its risky mission. Commander Zhou Yu observes with attention.

The crossing of the Yangtze River is breathtaking (and heavily computer rendered)

The pigeon finds the spy, or is it the other way around?

Details of the pigeon starring 

  • Source: The Battle of Red Cliff   Starring moment: 0:59:44
  • Pigeon activity: It is a messenger used for espionage.
  • Symbolism: A dove is employed to provide an additional touch of innocence. It is critical to do an undercover operation and the harmless look of the pigeon reduces the risk of being intercepted.
  • Relevance: Medium. The information that it carries allows the allies to discover an evil plan of the enemy forces. 
  • Training level: High. It is a well trained pigeon which is used to being in contact with humans. It is not clear if the pigeon flight was made using a computer-animated pigeon instead of a real one. All the background was rendered but I think that the pigeon probably was as well. How much was the budget of this scene....  a lot of money for sure.
Special thank to Htcdude Commander of the Wild Empire for suggesting pigeon appearances in John Woo movies.

Friday, March 9, 2012

Battlestar Galactica: an other-worldly pigeon

Title: Battlestar Galactica
Year: 2004
Director: Ronald D. Moore (Creator), Michael Rymer, Michael Nankin, Rod Hardy, Sergio Mimica-Gezzan, Robert M. Young, Edward James Olmos, Jeff Woolnough, Wayne Rose
Running time: 50 min.
Country: United States

The legend says that in a distant part of our galaxy, thousands of years ago, humans lived on a planet called Kobol. Then, there was an exodus and humans inhabited a group of planets known as the Twelve Colonies. Caprica is an Earth-like planet belonging to the Twelve Colonies. It hosts the federal capital of the colonies.

Caprica city. A futuristic metropolis... with pigeons!!!

On Caprica, humans lived with an advanced technology level and created a cybernetic race known as the cylons. At the beginning cylons and humans lived together in peace and joy but they followed the same path towards a ruined relationship: while their romance was a comedy.... their marriage became a drama.

Mr. Adama Jr. A pigeon-maniac.

Anyway, we are not going to focus on the cylon-human relationship but the human-pigeon one. We will see that this is also another drama. One of the main characters in Galactica is Mr. Lee Adama Jr. At the beginning he is captain of the colonial fleet but later he becomes Vice President of the Twelve Colonies, having an active role in the series.  In some way, he is a hero…. but a hero with a dark past and a hidden hatred. In the picture on the left side, we can appreciate a spark of rage in his eyes.

During his youth (in the episode this is shown in a flashback) he arrives completely drunk at his apartment and finds a pigeon inside. Without thinking twice he grabs a broom and tries, unsuccessfully, to scare away the poor animal. In this case, his military training didn't help to solve the situation. 

It is very interesting to note one fact: humans emigrated from Kobol to Caprica… and they took all the valuable items…. technology, spaceships and pigeons!!! Actually, there are very few animals in the complete series and it is very remarkable to see as an exception, the pigeon appearance.  The complete scene can be seen here.

This is the first example in this blog of an unearthly pigeon. Are pigeons actually spread all over the universe?

Pigeon flying with wings fully extended while keeping an eye on Mr. Adama. Jr.

Pigeon observing Mr. Adama. Jr. It can't understand the hostile welcome that it receives.
Mr. Adama Jr. is prepared to attack the innocent pigeon.
The proof of the evil aggression of Mr. Adama Jr.

Details of the pigeon starring 

  • Source: Battlestar Galactica. 4x19 Daybreak  Starring moment: 0:30:40
  • Pigeon activity: It is a typical urban pigeon which enters inside the apartment of a pigeon-maniac guy. It suffers a very hostile attack with a broom. I would like to remark that the pigeon suffers actual harm and we can see that it is very scared. This scene reaches levels of real violence that are comparable to the ones found in Borat.
  • Symbolism: The pigeon is used to highlight that the supposedly honorable character has several weaknesses and he is not honorable at all. 
  • Relevance: Low. The pigeon is only used to describe with more depth one of the characters.
  • Training level: It is a stunt pigeon that suffers a real aggression and safely escapes. A very risky interpretation.  

Friday, March 2, 2012

Up: escorting the floating house

Title: Up
Year: 2009
Director: Pete Docter, Bob Peterson
Running time: 96 min.
Country: United States

The hot air balloons are freed and the whole house rises up! It was very nice to see the floating house crossing the city. During the journey it approaches a power line that is used as an observation post by a flock of pigeons. When house passes by, the flock flies alongside it and we can see, for just a moment, how they fly very close to the protagonist, Mr. Fredricksen. However, the pigeons are only distant animals or blurred figures. That’s all. Later, we can see other birds, but not pigeons. I understand that this is not a film about pigeons but it is a shame that with a $175M dollar budget they didn’t address devote resources to pigeon appearances. For instance, it would be funny to see a curious pigeon approaching the house and interacting with Mr. Fredricksen. Probably he would scare it away.

We can see a blurred pigeon on the foreground.

Details of the pigeon starring 

  • Source: Up  Starring moment: 0:22:40
  • Pigeon activity: It is a typical urban flock of pigeons resting on a power line.  It is not clear if they are scared by the floating house or they approach it with curiosity.      
  • Symbolism: They are common urban pigeons.
  • Relevance: Nothing. They appear briefly in the film.
  • Training level: Not applicable.