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.