Friday, October 26, 2012

Safe house: pigeons in action films

Title: Safe House
Year:  2012
Director:  Daniel Espinosa
Running time: 115 min.
Country:  United States

This film has plenty of action scenes where violence is exchanged between spies, turned spies, semi-professional killers, innocent civilians and four scary pigeons. Tobin Frost (Denzel Washington) is a turned agent who is chased by a well organized band of villains. During his escape, Tobin experiences an disasterous driving experience which ends up in a car accident. At the time of the car crash we can see in the distance a pigeon flying away from the scene. The nodding head is Mr Frost's. It is not worth mentioning the copilot nor the blood on the windshield.

After many chases, deaths and destruction, the second pigeon appearance occurs in a Parisian street. Again, as part of the city's atmosphere (two bicycles, an old-fashioned motorbike... where is the guy with the accordion?) we can observe a flock of pigeons flying away. This creates a very cool and peaceful feeling, which is a big contrast compared with the rest of the movie.

Details of the pigeon starring 

  • Source: Safe House. Starring moment: 0:10:30 and 1:48:43
  • Pigeon activity: Several street pigeons that fly away from the scene.
  • Symbolism: In both cases, pigeons are used for providing extra realism. In the first case, the bird flies away due to a car accident. I wonder why the pigeon waits so long (until the car stops) to fly away from the scene. The second ones are mere film extras.
  • Relevance: Low. Pigeons are not involved in the film plot.
  • Training level: Very good. In both cases the pigeon exhibit a good level of training. The perfect dispersion (in three different directions) set against the Parisian scene shows the superb training of these animals. 

Friday, October 19, 2012

Third Edition of Pigeon Quest: spot the movie!!

Welcome to the Third Edition of Pigeon Quest. Here, instead of finding the pigeon in the film, you have to find the film with the pigeon.

Just write in the comments the film name with a recognized user name. An anonymous comment will produce an anonymous winner. The first one in succeeding will win and receive an honorary certificate. 

The quest is now closed. One anonymous reader got it right. The post about the film can be see here

You can see other editions of this Quest here.

These are the movie photograms: 

A guy with a gun leaning out of a window.

An he is suddenly scared by flying pigeons:

Very scared indeed..... is this appropriate behaviour for a tough guy?

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Caramel: a wedding and some pigeon droppings

Title: Sukkar banat (Caramel)
Year:  2007
Director:  Nadine Labaki
Running time: 96 min.
Country:  Lebanon

A wedding is time for celebration and joy, and nothing can spoil it. Not even a pigeon performing a carpet bombing of the guests. This film presents the life of five women in modern Beirut. I really enjoyed how it combines comedy and drama. I also was delighted when I found a pigeon appearance which I'll describe here:

At a certain point of the film, there is a wedding and the bride throws the bouquet from a balcony. Several of the guests are women that are grouped with great expectation for being the one who catches it.

But instead of that, a woman receives a dropping directly on her face. This is a very unpleasant situation. Try to imagine how such dropping can spoil a dress that was carefully chosen for the celebration or cause a serious makeup disorder.

Very nasty.....

What we see is a pigeon flying away in the distance. It is the culprit of this wedding madness.

Immediately, the panic spreads among the guests and everybody looks upwards looking for the source of the dropping.

After that they realise that the danger was over and now, all of them are safe from further droppings. The joy comes back again, the woman cleans her face and the celebration resumes with full intensity. The complete scene can be seen here.

Details of the pigeon starring 

  • Source: Sukkar banat (Caramel). Starring moment: 1:25:06
  • Pigeon activity: It is a pigeon which performs an on-the-fly deposition over the wedding guests.
  • Symbolism: Low. In this case, this situation that is used to show us how an awful situation can be overcome by a positive attitude.
  • Relevance: Low. Despite the pigeon intervention at a critical point of the wedding, the women managed that with good humour and the joyful situation was soon restored.
  • Training level: It is difficult to analyze the pigeon's training level because of the short appearance. It is probably a wild animal. 

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Back to the Future tribute

Dr. Emmett Brown was one of my favorite characters during my childhood. This is my special tribute to him.

Friday, October 5, 2012

The pigeons in my pocket

I was wrong when I thought that the only pictures that I kept in my wallet were of my wife. Two days ago I discovered two whole 3D holograms of a flying dove on the back side of my VISA cards. I've been using Visa credit card for more than one year and I hadn't noticed this little holographic image. The following days I enjoyed asking my friends if they had unexpected birds in their pockets. It was very funny to see their surprise reactions when they saw the dove flying accross their credit cards.

What I see in this collection is a flock of doves flying in the same direction.

After that, I wondered if this was the only pigeon/dove-related symbol to be found on common products, or if more could be found. After some searching, I discovered that many other companies also employ pigeon/dove representations for their logos. This is the summary of my research.

A Beauty with a dove, example of harmless peaceful dove
Firstly, it is interesting to observe that using a pigeon/dove as a symbol is a difficult tradeoff. On one hand, pigeons are hated by many people, but on the other, for many other people they have a great social -and emotional- role. In both cases they exhibit an interesting property: pigeons and doves populate everywhere on Earth, except for ultra cold or hot environments (the driest areas of the Sahara Desert, Antarctica and the Arctic), thus everybody, from almost every part of the world, recognizes them. This means that using a pigeon/dove provides an easy-to-recognize, pancultural symbol.  When you combine this idea, with the innocent appearance of an angelic bird, you get a very powerful marketing tool that can be efficiently exploited to diffuse your company's image. Note that the dove is commmonly used as a symbolic representation of peace and calmness. Pigeons are employed for communitation as homing pigeons. In this case, they are used to conceptually represent speed and reliability in a courier service.

One bizarre example of dove logo is the 2012 plane design of British Airways. The idea was to paint the complete plane like a huge dove and use it for celebrating the London 2012 Olympics. According to the logo designer, a dove was chosen because it represents the symbol of peace and social unity, and because they were also used in previous Olympic Games ceremonies. Here is a picture of the pigeonized airplane:

It is very interesting to see the details of the cockpit and the engine. I can't say that it looks like a dove. I would say that it seems more like a feathered suppository.

Another good example is the personal care brand Dove. This company is responsible for introducing one or multiple doves in many houses.  It is a good example of how, a peaceful and calm icon can induce the custumers to buy a given product brand.
In the figure below be can see other dove-related logos. We can see (from left to right) double-dove, a couple of  loving doves that are probably going to have an accident because they are too interested in each other and don't pay attention to their flight path; in the centre we have a bird that doesn't look like an actual dove; and to the right a more abstracted dove representation, which is influenced by the peace symbol.
Columbus, a bicycle company, presents a dove with a confusing name. It is not a Columbidae (the pigeon and dove bird family), but the Latin version of the company founder's surname. I remark on this logo because it is one of my favorites.

Moving onto regular pigeons, here I summarise several logos including (from left to right and top to bottom): ePigeon,  an instant communication company, Pigeon, a baby care product firm which actually doesn't use a pigeon logo but its name, Pigeon VoIP, a telephony service of an Indian Telecom company and Pigeon, a Korean a manufacturer of household products.
All these symbols represent pigeons in a very schematic way, showing the silhouette or a simple representation of a flying bird. If we actually want to see pigeons in all their splendour we have to see more specialised sources from people that not only want to employ these animals but they actually love them.

So now, as a final consideration, let me ask you: how many pigeons do you have?