Friday, December 21, 2018

The core: pigeon apocalipsis... and a fishy surprise

Title: The core
Year:  2003
Director:  Jon Amiel
Running time: 135 min.
Country: United States

I am imagining a conversation between the two film script writers, named Mr. Allan and Mr. Palmer. Note, the names are purely fictional. Any similarity with real people is purely coincidental.

Mr. Allan: We need to create terror...
Mr. Palmer:  Let's do it with pigeons!! Hitchcock did it before with birds, now we can create avian terror again!!
Mr. Allan:  Hitchcock used crows!! Crows are traditionally sinister creatures but pigeons are harmless. You will never see a pigeon eating the eye of a hanged person. No one will feel fear with pigeons.
Mr. Palmer: Maybe the effect of one pigeon is negligible but if we create a horde of dangerous pigeons we will make the public fear the birds again.
Mr. Allan: You are insane.

And they made it....  first they set the location, one of the most pigeon-busy areas in the world: Trafalgar Square. Then, they introduced the movie plot, an alteration in the Earth's core that changes the magnetic fields and turns the pigeons disoriented and a bit crazy. Finally, the context, a flock of pigeons with suicidal tendencies.

Without the context it looks like a typical pigeon flock, but it actually is an horde of terror.

Suddenly, the pigeons lose control (because of the change in the magnetic fields) and start smashing into everything around them. People panic and start escaping from the square.

A terrorized family escaping from the pigeon horde.

In the scene, most of the pigeons are CGI animated, like the screen shot below, where we observe a quite rigid pigeon hitting a car windscreen.

Computer-generated pigeon hitting a windscreen.
However, to add extra realism, other pigeons are genuine, like the one standing bravely on the steering wheel of a bus.The bus driver, in contrast, seems to be scared by the avian presence.

A real pigeon scaring a bus driver. The pigeon is now in the control of the bus.
Finally, the pigeon turns out not to be such a good driver and causes the bus accident. Other vehicles also collide in multiple road accidents. A total disaster.

The calamity extends to the surrounding area when tens of pigeons crash into shop windows, breaking the glass and increasing the havoc. It is worth mentioning that for completely unknown reasons, the CGI replaced one pigeon with a fish (screenshot below) at the moment of hitting the glass. Maybe was a mistake, a problem with the software repository, or a kind of joke, because pigeons and fish tend not to fly together. The complete scene can be seen here.

When tens of pigeons break the glass one flying fish appears in scene. 

Details of the pigeon starring 

  • Source: The core. Starring moment: 0:07:30
  • Pigeon activity: A huge group of London pigeons lose their orientation because of a change in the Earth's magnetic fields. Because of this, they start colliding with their surroundings, causing more chaos and remarkable destruction  
  • Symbolism: The film introduces several examples that represent how disastrous a change in the Earth's core could be for nature. In particular, the scene shows how innocent animals - the pigeons- can be turned into dreadful kamikazes by the Earth magnetic fields.
  • Relevance: Medium, in the scene many people are scared and injured because of the chaotic actions of the pigeons.Unfortunately, there are not consequences for the remaining film plot. 
  • Training level: Medium. Most of the animals are computer-made, but the ones that are real (like the one standing next to the bus driver) performs very well. 

Thursday, December 13, 2018

Pigeon Movie Database in the media

This section summarizes the appearances of this blog in public media. For us (me and the pigeons) it is always a matter of pride to be cited by the press. So here goes!

Time magazine cite us in the article entitled "Someone Created a Database That Tracks Pigeon Activity In Movies". From my point of view, the use of 'someone' sounds a bit dismissive. The good thing is that the article is quite positive and nice. For instance, they mention "[...] You may have missed these avian moments, but the eagle-eyed creators of the Pigeon Movie Database did not. They have documented and catalogued many, many instances of pigeons’ moments of cinematic glory. [...]"

The Independent also mentions this blog, in the article titled "The Pigeon Movie Database intrepidly charts the activity of pigeons in cinema". This title sounds somewhat more enthusiastic than the previous one. They also go straight to the main essence of this project: "A blog that gives in-depth analyses of pigeons in popular films.".

Over here, we will try to keep growing the database with more and more pigeon appearances.... in the hope that one day the pigeons will get the recognition they deserve in films.

Thursday, December 6, 2018

Prince of Darkness: a pitiful pigeon crucifixion

Title: Prince of Darkness
Year: 1987
Director: John Carpenter
Running time: 110 min.
Country: United States

In this horrific film a group of scientists are surrounded and killed by a gang of people possessed by Satan. John Carpenter exhibits muscle in a film that combines horror, violence and despair. In this context there is a pigeon appearance in a sequence that, at least for me, is the most revolting pigeon-scene I have ever witnessed in a film.

Here we can find the careless scientist falling into the trap
The scene occurs when one of the scientist leaves the building where he is working only to fall into a trap prepared by the satanically possessed homeless. The trap is quite simple: in a lonely and dark alley next to the building a strange object is laid on the floor that attracts the attention of the scientist (we all know about the inherent curiosity exhibited by the members of this community- the scientists).

When he approaches strange object he discovers that it is a pigeon crucified using two sticks, and  shortly after he is cornered by the bad guys (or rather, the possessed ones, because they may have originally been good persons). One of them, played by singer Alice Cooper, kills him using a stick in a quite violent way. A very sad ending to such a promising career....

After carefully watching the scene I am still unsure if the pigeon recorded in the scene was a real one - I sincerely hope not. I searched in the final credits and I couldn't find any statement showing that they have followed the Animal Welfare Act (AWA) or the federal Endangered Species Act (ESA). I hope that this little animal was not harmed in the film recording. No one deserves that, even for a damn good horror film. 

Details of the pigeon starring 

  • Source:  Prince of Darkness. Starring moment: 0:35:35
  • Pigeon activity: None, The pigeon appears dead by crucifixion.  
  • Symbolism: High. The whole film has a strong Christian undercurrent: a context of a group of scientists lead by a priest, evil itself contained in a church cellar, infernal possessions... in this context the miserable and cruel demise of an innocent pigeon that could be argued to represent the Holy Spirit can be seen as coherent (of course, from evil's perspective). 
  • Relevance: Medium. This scene represented the first death of one of the film's characters. The role of the pigeon was important to achieve this action. 
  • Training level:  Not applicable (the pigeon was dead).