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 Nowadays it seems a bit outdated and naive but I have to admit that I smiled when I saw it.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.


  1. More 007 pigeonry: John Glen directed five consecutive Bonds following Moonraker (For Your Eyes Only, Octopussy, A View To A Kill, The Living Daylights and Licence to Kill), and as his "trademark", they all feature a jump-scare scene where Bond is trying to be stealthy and he startles a pigeon.

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