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.


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  2. Awesome Movie. I have watched this movie.

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