The Crimson Wing: Mystery of the Flamingos

Movie review by
Renee Schonfeld, Common Sense Media
The Crimson Wing: Mystery of the Flamingos Movie Poster Image
Stunning tale of annual migration -- predators included.
  • G
  • 2010
  • 78 minutes

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Educational Value

Filled with information about flamingos and one unique habitat in Tanzania. Beautifully photographed scenes offer an in-depth look at the annual migration, mating rituals, and early months of development of the flamingo's newborn population.

Positive Messages

A close study of nature reveals mysteries, miracles, and beauty. Though some realities of  the natural world are harsh, an overwhelming number of creatures are able survive, thrive, and reproduce, even in nearly uninhabitable environments.

Positive Role Models & Representations

The flamingos as parents are seen as nurturing and capable of special bonding with their young.

Violence & Scariness

Predators kill and carry off several flamingo chicks. A number of the youngest birds do not survive the harsh realities of their environment. They are trapped and/or encumbered by the thick salt of the terrain.

Sexy Stuff

One very brief scene shows male and female flamingos mating.

Language
Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that in addition to the portrayal of the flamingos' inspiring way of life in a challenging environment, there are potentially frightening and sad scenes that show the predatory nature of the birds' enemies (storks, mongeese, etc.). In three separate sequences baby chicks are stalked, chased, and killed. On other occasions, the terrain itself victimizes the young birds and some are left behind to die. This is not a light-hearted or humorous look at one of nature's creatures, but a serious, earnest study that patient kids interested in nature will enjoy.

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What's the story?

Every year during a short period of heavy rains, a vast number of flamingos return to Lake Natron in Northern Tanzania to find a partner, reproduce, and raise their chicks until they're ready to fly away again. All the flamingos that live in Eastern Africa are born in this one place. Despite the soaring temperatures, harsh terrain, and presence of predators, the birds endure as their babies develop, then leave en masse, scattering over the continent until tthe next heavy rains lead them back again. Disneynature has captured the odyssey, the stark beauty of the lake, its salt island, and the miraculous mating rituals and survival techniques of one of the planet's most beautiful creatures.

Is it any good?

The pace and understated narration of this film may not hold the interest of the youngest kids, but the visual beauty should delight older children and adults. Flamingos are elegant, graceful birds; their yearly adventure is wondrous and set in a unique, rarely seen environment. In keeping with the nature of their subject, the filmmakers have captured the story in an elegant, graceful way. However, unlike the beloved documentary March of the Penguins, with its amusing birds and Morgan Freeman's clever voice-over, this film is serious, unhurried, and devoid of humor.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about how flamingos and people are alike. How did the members of each flamingo family behave toward one another? Do you see similarities between their relationships and our human ones? How do humans affect the lives of flamingos?

  • Nature can be cruel as well as miraculous. How can science and understanding help us accept that reality?

  • Given the high temperatures (up to 130 degrees F), the heavy rains, and the massive islands of salt, the making of this film must have been very difficult. Can you imagine how the filmmakers prepared for and then accomplished their work? Would you like to be involved in a filmmaking process like this?

Movie details

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