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


Friday, November 2, 2012

Moonraker: the pigeon double take

Title: Moonraker
Year:  1979
Director:   Lewis Gilbert
Running time: 126 min.
Country: United Kingdom

This film contains a very elaborate pigeon appearance which deep down, has some technical and artistic relevance. Let's first introduce the scene:

James Bond is -again- in big trouble: this time he is in Venice and is escaping  in a motor gondola from a group of bad guys who are chasing him. The very idea of being followed by two armed guys who are very bent on killing you would cause me terrible stress. However, James Bond doesn't show any sign of discomfort. In fact, he seems to be enjoying it.

When he reaches the end of the canal, his gondola is converted into a hovercraft which allows him to get into St. Mark's square. People are amazed to see a gondola crossing the square. The scene depicts many surprised reactions from the people around the square. Nowadays it seems a bit outdated and naive but I have to admit that I smiled when I saw it. 

Now, let's focus on the pigeons. In the scene we can see plenty of pigeons roaming around the square. Probably, it was not so much fun for them: they were scared by this unusual vehicle. In the film we can see large flocks of pigeons flying away. Pigeons are not fans of Bond. 


But there is one pigeon that is not flying. Instead of that, it is watching the gondola guy. The pigeon is watching Bond double-take style. According to Wikipedia, a double-take occurs when a person glances at something, turns away, then realizes that what he has just seen is unusual or surprising in some way, and turns back to look at it again, often adding additional body language to express surprise. In Moonraker, we can observe a pigeon practising this style. This is the result:

Nice pigeon eyes,  aren't they. The complete scene can be seen here.

Details of the pigeon starring 

  • Source: Moonraker. Starring moment: 0:39:44.
  • Pigeon activity: They are pigeons that live in St. Mark's square, Venice. They are suddenly scared by a guy driving a gondola.
  • Symbolism: They are playing common pigeons. It is interesting to see the use of animals (a pigeon and a dog) to show astonishment. 
  • Relevance: None. James Bond doesn't need the help of any pigeon -yet- for accomplishing his mission and pulling the girl. 
  • Training level: None. Probably they are wild animals that live in the filmming area as there have always been plenty of pigeons in this square.

Special thanks to Chao from The Killer Reviews.