Monday, July 03, 2006

Movie Review - The Wild Parrots of Telegraph Hill

We have finally seen a movie that I can whole-heartedly recommend! This was a great film. It is a documentary about a man who spent about 10 years of his life befriending and studying a flock of wild parrots that live near Coit Tower in San Francisco. The Netflix description of the movie did not do it justice. It describes the man, Mark Bittner, as a "bohemian St. Francis of Assisi" - an eccentric searching for meaning in life. In reality, I didn't think that Mr. Bittner seemed that eccentric or bohemian. However, he did become fascinated with these birds and basically adopt a full time job of observing them. This was in spite of the fact that no one was paying him and he could find no one else interested in his research.

No one is sure what the origin is of the wild flocks of parrots that live in SF (there are two). Somehow they escaped from captivity and have been propagating and doing quite well in the city. What surprised me about the film was how studious it was. Mark Bittner did his homework over the years, finding out more and more about the parrot social network, behavior and where they likely came from. In an interview with a zoo-keeper, we find out that not a lot is known about these topics because it is so hard to study parrots in their natural habitat. Bittner has maintained contact with this zookeeper over the years to ask him questions about the observations he makes.

And unlike Timothy Treadwell, who spent his years studying grizzly bears in Alaska and was profiled in the movie Grizzly Man, Bittner kept his role in perspective. He interfered in the flock very rarely, only when there was a bird that was severely injured or ill and then released them back to the flock if they were able. He was able to accept the natural cycle of life and death that is inherent nature. All in all, it was a very informative film about a fascinating group of birds and a very interesting and intelligent man.


Martha said...

Tracy, sounds like a movie I would like to see too. I'm not much of a movie person but do enjoy them once in a while. Is it in the theater or did you see it on DVD?

Tracy said...

It is on DVD. We subscribe to Netflix, so we get our movies mailed to us. We watch things quite a bit after they are released as they move up our list slowly before we finally get them. I call this the "Netflix delayed viewing plan". But we don't mind. We very rarely go to the theater any more. We save money and the selection on Netflix is outstanding.

Martha said...

Good idea. I have always thought it smart to be patient and wait until the movies come out on video (or now DVD). A few months ago my husband took our television out of the house so we don't watch too much anymore. Anything we watch at home has to be on DVD (so we can watch it on the computer) or taken to my parent's house. We're pretty much used to it now, but there are those times when I would just like to sit back and relax with a good movie. Instead, I get on the blog.

Tracy said...

I admire you for doing that. I do have to reign in my TV watching at times.