Wings of Life

  • Review Date: April 15, 2013
  • Rated: G
  • Genre: Documentary
  • Release Year: 2013
  • Running Time: 77 minutes

Common Sense Media says

Lovely, kid-friendly nature docu focuses on bees, birds.
  • Review Date: April 15, 2013
  • Rated: G
  • Genre: Documentary
  • Release Year: 2013
  • Running Time: 77 minutes

Age(i)

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Quality(i)

 

What parents need to know

Educational value

Like all of Disneynature's documentaries, this one will teach children about why flowers are so important to the global eco-system, and why four special pollinators are crucial to the environment: birds, bees, butterflies, and bats. The movie takes us from the desert to the rainforest to the fields of the Midwest. Each pollinator's journey is outlined as is the specific ways the flowers attract their special pollinator. Disney also created an educator guide to go with the doc: www.disney.com/wingsoflife

Positive messages

The documentary encourages viewers to help pollinators by planting seeds in window boxes or joining a community garden or merely taking an active interest in the flowers in your own backyard. It also explains how interconnected all of nature is, and how frightening the unexplained vanishing of the bees is for the future of pollination.

Positive role models

Not really a "role models" story, but the call to action at the end may spark interest in gardening and protecting the pollination cycle.

Violence & scariness

In one scene a spider's web catches a few insects who get stuck, and another scene shows a few hummingbirds vying for the same flower start pecking at each other.

Sexy stuff

Discussion of "love connections" betwen the birds and the bees and the flowers and the trees.

Language
Not applicable
Consumerism
Not applicable
Drinking, drugs, & smoking
Not applicable

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that Disneynature's Earth Day-timed documentary Wings of Life explains the importance of flowers and the earth's greatest pollinators: bees, birds, bats, and butterflies. Narrated by Meryl Streep, the documentary follows the journey of these pollinators, some of whom travel amazing distances to pollinate a very specific flower. There is a teensy bit of wildlife violence (a spider web traps prey, and a few birds fight for the claim on a particular flower), but otherwise nature-loving young viewers will enjoy a look at nature's unsung heroes, and teachers can use the Disney-created educator guide as a tool alongside the feature.

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What's the story?

Disneynature has an annual tradition of releasing a nature documentary around Earth Day: WINGS OF NATURE is a film that concentrates on the relationship between flowers and their pollinators, particularly bees, butterflies, birds and bats. Narrated by Meryl Streep, the movie provides a close-up view of pollination -- from the Monarch butterflies who journey thousands of miles north to find the milkweed of the Midwest, to the bucket orchids of the rainforest that expertly manipulate bees to fly away with their pollen sacks, and the bats that feed on cactus fruit in the deserts. This is literally the story of the birds and the bees.

Is it any good?

QUALITY
 

Like most nature documentaries, Wings of Life is visually spectacular. The cinematography captures in breathtaking detail the ways pollinators and their colorful host flowers interact. It shows pregnant and nursing bats drink luscious red cactus fruit in slow motion, and an orchid bee getting trapped in a bucket orchid with perfect precision until the exotic flower's pollen sacks have been attached. Even basic closeups of Monarch butterflies or hungry hummingbirds are startlingly beautiful.

Each coupling between a pollinator and its flower is what Streep's narration calls a "love connection," and the documentary beautifully conveys how the partnership of pollination is pivotal to the environment. However beautiful the visuals, younger kids may lose interest, because the dramatic tension isn't as compelling in this story as it is in other documentaries like African Cats or March of the Penguins, where there are several life-or-death scenarios. Still, you'll never look at a flower quite the same way again after seeing the process of pollination up close and personal in Wings of Life.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about how documentaries help teach us about the world around us -- whether it's nature and wildlife or personal stories. Which are more powerful or educational: documentaries or narrative films?

  • Discuss flowers and how your family can help pollinators in your own backyard or locally through a community garden. What can you do to keep the cycle of pollination going strong?

  • Disneynature releases a new documentary every year around Earth Day. What do you do in honor of Earth Day? Do you think it's helpful to have a day in which everyone's supposed to think about the environment?

Movie details

DVD release date:April 16, 2013
Cast:Meryl Streep
Director:Louie Schwartzberg
Studio:Disneynature
Genre:Documentary
Topics:Science and nature
Run time:77 minutes
MPAA rating:G

This review of Wings of Life was written by

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  • ON: Content is age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • PAUSE: Know your child; some content may not be right for some kids.
  • OFF: Not age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • NOT FOR KIDS: Not appropriate for kids of any age.

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Quality

Our star rating assesses the media's overall quality.

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Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging; great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging; good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging; good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging; OK learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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