Sunday, September 1, 2019

Habemus papam: pigeons supporting the new pope supporters

Title: Habemus Papam
Year:  2011
Director:    Nanni Moretti
Running time: 104 min.
Country: Italy

This film permits us to muse on the way of life of the pigeons in St. Peter's Square, a quite busy area (in term of pigeon activity) like the Piazza San Marco in Venice or Trafalgar Square, in London. Going back to the film, the cardinals are summoned to a conclave in Vatican city for electing a new pope. But this traditional process that has been followed for centuries takes a different path when the new elected pope is overwhelmed by the situation and feels reluctant to accept his duty. The film depicts how this situation is managed by the Vatican and the reasons of the Pope for rejecting his position.

This process produces great expectation and many people gather in St. Peter's Square waiting for receiving news about the events that are happening.

The Pope meets a therapist to analyze the source of the problem related to his withdraw decision
Some nuns are waiting with great expectation for news about the new Pope.
 Of course, there are pigeons around.

Alongside the people a group of pigeons roams around. A very kind support for the new Pope!

We can observe pigeons next to the people

Details of the pigeon starring 

  • Source: Habemus Papam. Starring moment: 0:39:44.
  • Pigeon activity: The typical urban pigeons activity: roaming around, looking for food or any other curious artifact.
  • Symbolism: None. They represent the typical pigeons in a city.
  • Relevance: None. As far as I know, they are not able to influence in the Pope's election.
  • Training level: None. They are not trained pigeons, but feral-urban ones.

Sunday, June 30, 2019

Las brujas de Zugarramurdi: thiefs, witchery and pigeons

Title: Las brujas de Zugarramurdi (Witching & Bitching)
Year:  2013
Director:  Álex de la Iglesia
Running time: 112 min.
Country: Spain

The films of Álex de la Iglesia are always intense action-packed experiences with a strong dose of dark humour. I have to confess that I am a great fan of this director. It was a great pleasure to find pigeons in this one that portrays the difficult relationship between men and witches. The former being criminals escaping from a robbery, and the latter, witches that have planned to sacrifice the men by means of an ancient ritual.

What none of them could have foreseen was that love would blossom between one of the men and a witch. An intriguingly romantic topic, but that is unfortunately out of the scope of the PMDb.

Eva (played by Carolina Bang), is the witch that falls in love.

José (Hugo Silva) is her counterpart. 
In the middle of this outlandish story, near the film's climax there is a sexually charged scene between these two characters. The passionately kiss in a room of a semi-abandoned mansion that is also occupied by with pigeons (here we go). The birds, alarmed by the tension of the scene, fly away, with some of them clumsily winging their way into the two protagonists.

Love scene complemented by scared pigeons.

Details of the pigeon starring 

  • Source: Las brujas de Zugarramurdi. Starring moments: 1:13:07
  • Pigeon activity:  This film contains a single pigeon scene of scared pigeons that fly away from the two main characters. 
  • Symbolism: None. There is no symbolism in this scene. The pigeons are used to demonstrate that the mansion where the witches live in is in a semi-abandoned state.  
  • Relevance: Low. Although some of the pigeons hit the head of the protagonists and they attract the attention of Jose, Eva (see animation above) shakes him and is able to keep him focused on what she it talking about.  
  • Training level: Low. In this scene the pigeons are thrown in a quite rude way. The movement of the pigeons when they hit the characters is quite artificial and directed. In some cases it seems that they used a pigeon cannon to propel our feathered friends, instead of a gentle human assistant. 

Friday, May 31, 2019

PMDb in ReadltandWeep

Every now and then we get a mention in the press or on other sites, and some while back, the PMDb was cited on the ReadltandWeep blog. According to the authors of this site "ReadltandWeep is a podcast about movies with a focus on weird, bad, and blockbusting. Each month we pick a theme and our best listeners vote on the movies in that theme."

PMDb got it's moment in the limelight, in the podcast #438: Moonraker (1979) around minute 18:00. It was funny to hear the surprised reaction of the participants when the PMDb was introduced by one of them. I clearly understand that the meaning of this project can seem a bit weird, but trust me, just watch the films with the appropriate filter.... pigeons are there!!! and someone has to do the job of reporting them... an enjoyable job, at that.

Friday, May 3, 2019

Revisiting Home Alone 2

Recently, I revisited Home Alone 2 and I found a funny (though unkind) scene that went unnoticed in my previous review. Here Harry (Joe Pesci) notices a nearly group of pigeons. In his usual way, he gently invites the birds to keep their distance him. I really enjoyed Pesci's acting and how he is able to create such comic scenes with his bad mood. Harry, the pigeons will never forgive your rudeness.

Monday, April 15, 2019

Hannibal: a pigeon choreography displaying the cannibal

Title: Hannibal
Year:  2001
Director:  Ridley Scott
Running time: 131 min.
Country: United States

This film represents a perfect example of mainstream film that leverages pigeons for multiple purposes (creating perturbing or pitiful feelings in the spectator) . The first pigeon appearance is in the main credits. Here, pigeons are shown in grey scale, recorded with low resolution by surveillance cameras. Here pigeons are shown as mysterious and slightly hideous creatures. In this scene we can see a close up of a pigeon and several shots of pigeons in parks (the reason the security cameras are recording pigeons is uncertain, maybe they were calibrated by a pigeon fancier).

In the main credits we can see a sinister pigeon with a defiant look... maybe it's a cannibal 
In the main credits there is a dark scene with a flock of pigeons gathered in a square

What is more clear is the reason for introducing pigeons in this point of the film: they were used to represent Hannibal Lecter. In the scene, a large flock of pigeons gathers and creats Hannibal's face. This image lasts for a very short time. It is both disturbing and quite an achievement to find a mixture of pigeons, pixel-art and cannibalism-exaltation in a single shot.

Hannibal's face created by a flock of pigeons

According to WikipediaThe tile sequence remained on Scott's mind and would eventually end up as the main title sequence. Livesey would gather footage of pigeons in an empty square in Florence early one morning which, in the final cut, would morph into the face of Hannibal Lecter. Scott believed it a good idea, as it fundamentally asked the question: 'Where is Hannibal Lecter?' Scott explains: "And of course this story tells it, with pigeons in the cobblestones of somewhere, where you wonder where that is ... and there he is... his face appears.". The titles are said to have been influenced by the film Seven.

Later, in the film, Hannibal tells a perturbing story about roller pigeons (pigeons with the ability to roll in the air) to justify how behavior can be controlled by genes. He mentions that there are two classes of roller pigeons, deep rollers and shallow rollers.  When two deep rollers are bred together, their offspring will roll to the ground and kill themselves. The scene that includes this conversation can be seen here. A curious story that is unclear whether true or false.

There is a counterpart to this scene related to one of the characters that rescues an injured pigeon from a road and tries to take care of it. This action clearly shows that he is a noble person. Although this is a secondary character, he provides a crucial hint to the research of the investigation into the case.

This man is putting his life in risk to save an injured pigeon

The rescued injured pigeon with a fellow pigeon that shows concern for health

Details of the pigeon starring 

  • Source: Hannibal. Starring moments: 0:3:40, 0:4:24, 0:24:30, 0:27:33, 0:29:03 (last three timestamps represent a pigeon hotspot).
  • Pigeon activity:  This film contains several pigeon appearances. All of them are wild pigeons that roam, fly or lay in public areas.
  • Symbolism: The first pigeon appearance (in the main credits) is full of symbolism. Both the intriguing representation of the pigeons as well the formation of Hannibal's face, create the impression that the dark shadow of Hannibal Lecter is so shape-shifting and ethereal that it can appear and disappear anywhere. 
  • Relevance: Medium. Unfortunately the pigeon activity does not have a relevant impact on the film plot. However, they are the protagonists in the main credits and are mentioned by Hannibal Lecter.  
  • Training level: Low. The pigeon appearances in the main credits are wild animals or CGI generated. The other one, that lays injured, does not perform any action and probably is a sedated animal or a dummy. 

Sunday, March 17, 2019

The way back: doves in a buddhist temple

Title: The Way Back
Year:  2010
Director:    Peter Weir
Running time: 130 min.
Country: United States

Several prisoners in a Russian gulag manage to escape a make a trip of thousands of kilometers to their way to freedom. I enjoyed watching this adventure film with great shots and some intrepid doves. When the group of survivors reach an abandoned buddhist temple they decide to investigate the ruins.  

And this is when two doves and a pigeon suddenly appear from the ruins and fly away, startles, from the new visitors.

The dove silhouettes can be noticed at the bottom of the image.  

Details of the pigeon starring 

  • Source: The way back. Starring moment: 1:14:20
  • Pigeon activity: A small group of birds flying away when the protagonists arrive at the scene. 
  • Symbolism:  Although there are some references to doves in buddhism, the use of doves and pigeons in this films seems to be more coincidental relating to wild animals that occupied an abandoned building. 
  • Relevance: None. The birds do not interact with the protagonists of the films thus they do not influence the film plot. 
  • Training level: Medium. It seems that they are trained animals released in the film scene. They perform well flying almost vertically in a narrow building.  

The winner of the fifth edition of Pigeon Quest

At PMDb we congratulate Chrissy as the winner of the fifth edition of Pigeon Quest. Congratulations on your fine pigeon-spotting performance. You can download a high-resolution image of your certificate here.

Sunday, March 10, 2019

PMDb film and TV series visual index

Here is an link to at-a-glance visual list of the covers of films and TV series that have been posted so far. The list is ordered chronologically. Each image contains a link to the related post.

I have a much longer list (with tens of films) that have been reported but not reviewed yet - thank you very much to all the pigeon spotters and film contributors who have shared information with me. My plan is to gradually enrich the PMDb with these feathered findings.

Friday, March 1, 2019

Game of thrones: Arya Stark, the pigeon slayer

Title: Game of Thrones
Year: 2011 
Director: David Benioff, D.B. Weiss, Timothy Van Patten, Brian Kirk, Daniel Minahan, Alan Taylor
Running time: 55 min.
Country: United States

It is almost impossible to do not feel pity for Arya. She lost half of her family, she was forced to run away, living a life of poverty and, on top of that, she is surviving in an extremely violent environment. Any social worker from the Office of Child and Family Services would place her in a special protection program.

However, she also has a dark side, a cruel mind that not only thinks about revenge, but about pigeon carnage. Her violent actions were performed not in one, but several scenes during this tv series. In this entry we can see one of them, where this young girl is having fun beheading an innocent pigeon. The scene is shown below. No additional comments are necessary.

The poor pigeon is not aware of the great jeopardy that is coming.

Arya slaying an innocent pigeon.

The most tragic part of this story is Arya's face after this unfortunate training practice: she shows nothing, not shame, not  happiness, just a cold, inexpressive stare towards the dead bird. A pure gem for psychotherapists.  Arya, pigeons will never forget this offense.

Details of the pigeon starring 

  • Source: Game of Thrones. Starring moment: 0:44:05
  • Pigeon activity: It is a common pigeon belonging to the Game of Thrones' universe that has a fatal encounter with a bored killing machine eager to slash living forms with her sword. 
  • Symbolism: Performing this action against a pigeon (one of the most harmless creatures on Earth - ignoring the dropping-related side effects or the intense cooing during the mating season-) is a clear example of how deranged the poor girl is. Definitely, not a good choice for babysitting.
  • Relevance: For the poor pigeon character, high, because it is the end of the story for the animal. Looking at the bird's head size, it seems like a female pigeon. I hope that it is not the breeding season and there are no squabs waiting for her. 
  • Training level: Low. The pigeon shows steely calm facing its final like the musicians of the Titanic. The difference is that here the iceberg has a sword. 

Friday, February 22, 2019

Samba: unconfirmed pigeons in Paris.

Title: Samba
Year:  2014
Director:  Olivier Nakache, Eric Toledano
Running time: 115 min.
Country: France

This film depicts the tough life of an illegal immigrant (Samba) in Paris, how he is forced to accept all kinds of jobs to survive in the city and how he falls in love with Alice (Charlotte Gainsbourg). Although we empathize with Samba, the reality is that we are only focused on pigeon appearances in the film, so we will skip describing his adventures. There are two scenes related to pigeons. The first one occurs when the police scramble onto some scaffolding to catch the immigrants, Samba and his friends escape running on the roofs of buildings. When Samba is leaving a roof hatch we can hear pigeons cooing and see a feather next to the window (red arrow in the screen shot). Of course, this does not count, it is a near miss.

A small feather (pointed at by the red arrow) next to Samba, the film's protagonist.

The second scene is more explicit: Samba is talking with his uncle, who is in depressed because he has lost his job.

In this picture we can see Samba's uncle's sadness.
Samba is trying to encourage him to start a new project and is getting dressed for a date with his girlfriend. In the background we can observe a tv playing a documentary and some birds (unconfirmed pigeons) flying way. We would have to find out the documentary's name to clearly discern where they are pigeons or other birds.

Samba is getting dressed. We can observe the tv on the right side of the screenshot. 

Here we can see the tv with more detail. Some unconfirmed pigeons appear. 

Details of the pigeon starring 

  • Source: Samba. Starring moment: 1:21:10 and 1:40:26
  • Pigeon activity: A flock of unconfirmed pigeons fly away, probably scared by the camera. 
  • Symbolism: None, they represent wild animals.
  • Relevance: Low, they are part of a tv documentary that Samba's sad uncle is watching. It is not clear whether this documentary helps him to feel better. 
  • Training level: None. They are wild animals. 

Friday, February 1, 2019

Fifth edition of Pigeon Quest

Welcome to the Fifth 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 winner of this quest can be seen here.
The film review can be found here

You can see other editions of this Quest here.

In this sequence we can observe two people entering an abandoned building.....

When they are observing the ruins, two doves and a pigeon start flying, surprised by the intruders....

Sunday, January 13, 2019

La casa de las palomas: the tragic ending of the pigeon inquisition

Title: La casa de las palomas
Year:  1972
Director:  Claudio Guerín
Running time: 90 min.
Country: Spain

A film entitled La casa de las palomas (The house of the pigeons) looks promising in terms of pigeon activity. After watching it, I have to confess that it was much more than I had expected. There are pigeons everywhere, outdoors, indoors, on the characters' heads an even within their minds. We are facing a pigeon-intensive film with feathered appearances of great symbolism and even horror.

This film presents a bizarre love triangle (between humans) in which we aren't particularly interested initially, given that we focus, as usual, on the pigeon appearances. However, in this film, the sexual conducts of the humans has a strong impact on the future (and tragic) actions related to the pigeons.

From my perspective, this film has some parallelism with Requiem for a dream. What at the beginning looks like a romantic film (in this context, with pigeons involved), later turns into a drama that leads to a pigeon apocalypse with several gory scenes (with pigeons as the tragic protagonists). Let's start from the beginning. Note: the following contains several spoilers about the film plot.

There is a man, that has a mistress who is the daughter of his would-be lover. They conduct their affair secretly in a house that belongs to a lady, who happens to be a pigeon fancier.

The lady pigeon fancier that lives in the house with one of the animals. Based on the subsequent actions taken by the birds, Torquemada (a famous Spanish inquisitor) could be a good name for the dove.
The pigeon lofts are in the roof of the house. It is interesting to highlight that all of them are doves. These animals, known for their purist symbolism really do turn out to be puritanical creatures that do not approve of the immoral relationship that is taking place in their abode (with the approval of their keeper).

It looks like a innocent dove, but do not be fooled, we are looking at a feathered inquisitor.
So, the doves decide to act, with all the possible enforcement measures that this creature is capable of. They focus on the mistress, maybe because she was weaker than the man, maybe because she was the female (in this case, we are also be talking about sexist birds).  Consequently, the first punishment action occurs in the pigeon loft, when the girl comes to visit the birds. Several doves attack her and she has to escape, just a little scared (of course, we are talking about doves, not Hitchcock's crows).

The mistress being attacked by the doves when she was visiting their loft.
The thing is that the doves and pigeons in this film are magical, and have the ability to appear supernaturally in the house. Knowing the intention of the birds, it doesn't bode well.

Doves and pigeons magically appear in the living room looking to deliver punishment.
Then, one an amazing sequence is displayed. We can see an eye-to-eye stare-off between the girl and the inquisitors. With a little  imagination we can see the look of judgement in the pigeon's glare.

Eye-to-eye stare-off between the protagonist and the inquisitor pigeons.

The punishment process continues. The girl faints and the the birds enter her mind by means of dreadful nightmares. The girl sees herself dead, surrounded by the doves.

Representation of a dead girl surrounded by the pigeons. At least in dreams, they have reached their goal.

Fortunately for the protagonist, there is an unexpected turn in the plot when a fan that was activated in the room got rid of the pigeons by cutting them with the blades. Amazingly, this romantic film turns into a gory massacre for the pigeons.

When the girl's lover comes in the room he finds a dead pigeon next to the door. He surprisingly finds all the doves dead and the girl saved. This is the end of the story: all the birds have been killed by the fan and the lovers reunite.

Tragic shot of a dead pigeon next to the room's door. 

The lovers finally reunite in a room filled with dead birds and avian blood everywhere. 

Details of the pigeon starring 

  • Source: La casa de las palomas. Starring moment: many of them, 0:41:37, 0:49:43, 1:26:00
  • Pigeon activity: There is plenty of pigeon activity. In this film we can find normal pigeons in many locations: in the loft, rooms, on furniture, even on the characters. They exhibit an aggressive behaviour against the girl. The doves in the film look lovely, but they are actually evil and full of resentment. They are even worse than the Pigeons from Hell. 
  • Symbolism: Very high. The film uses doves to reflect a pure (or puritan) moral opposed to the liberal conduct of the film's protagonist. In a different way from the conventional symbol of pigeons (peace, fraternity, ...) these indignant animal decide to take action and punish and kill the protagonist. 
  • Relevance: Very high. Pigeons are responsible for tormenting the protagonist in many ways, including physical action and physiological torture that almost took the life of the protagonist.  
  • Training level: Very high. The doves act very well in this film. There are no special effects, thus all the performances are real and feel very realistic taking into account the complexity of the storyline. 

Tuesday, January 1, 2019

Film tribute: Trainspotting 2

From Pigeon Movie Database we wish you a happy New Year with this film tribute.

Choose flight.
Choose a flock.
Choose a town square.
Choose a bird partner,
Choose a cosy big nest
Choose bread crumbs, parks,
pigeon-feeding pensioners, and eaves with good views
Choose flight.