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.



Friday, December 21, 2018

The core: pigeon apocalipsis... and a fishy surprise

Title: The core
Year:  2003
Director:  Jon Amiel
Running time: 135 min.
Country: United States




I am imagining a conversation between the two film script writers, named Mr. Allan and Mr. Palmer. Note, the names are purely fictional. Any similarity with real people is purely coincidental.

Mr. Allan: We need to create terror...
Mr. Palmer:  Let's do it with pigeons!! Hitchcock did it before with birds, now we can create avian terror again!!
Mr. Allan:  Hitchcock used crows!! Crows are traditionally sinister creatures but pigeons are harmless. You will never see a pigeon eating the eye of a hanged person. No one will feel fear with pigeons.
Mr. Palmer: Maybe the effect of one pigeon is negligible but if we create a horde of dangerous pigeons we will make the public fear the birds again.
Mr. Allan: You are insane.

And they made it....  first they set the location, one of the most pigeon-busy areas in the world: Trafalgar Square. Then, they introduced the movie plot, an alteration in the Earth's core that changes the magnetic fields and turns the pigeons disoriented and a bit crazy. Finally, the context, a flock of pigeons with suicidal tendencies.

Without the context it looks like a typical pigeon flock, but it actually is an horde of terror.

Suddenly, the pigeons lose control (because of the change in the magnetic fields) and start smashing into everything around them. People panic and start escaping from the square.

A terrorized family escaping from the pigeon horde.

In the scene, most of the pigeons are CGI animated, like the screen shot below, where we observe a quite rigid pigeon hitting a car windscreen.

Computer-generated pigeon hitting a windscreen.
However, to add extra realism, other pigeons are genuine, like the one standing bravely on the steering wheel of a bus.The bus driver, in contrast, seems to be scared by the avian presence.

A real pigeon scaring a bus driver. The pigeon is now in the control of the bus.
Finally, the pigeon turns out not to be such a good driver and causes the bus accident. Other vehicles also collide in multiple road accidents. A total disaster.


The calamity extends to the surrounding area when tens of pigeons crash into shop windows, breaking the glass and increasing the havoc. It is worth mentioning that for completely unknown reasons, the CGI replaced one pigeon with a fish (screenshot below) at the moment of hitting the glass. Maybe was a mistake, a problem with the software repository, or a kind of joke, because pigeons and fish tend not to fly together. The complete scene can be seen here.

When tens of pigeons break the glass one flying fish appears in scene. 



Details of the pigeon starring 

  • Source: The core. Starring moment: 0:07:30
  • Pigeon activity: A huge group of London pigeons lose their orientation because of a change in the Earth's magnetic fields. Because of this, they start colliding with their surroundings, causing more chaos and remarkable destruction  
  • Symbolism: The film introduces several examples that represent how disastrous a change in the Earth's core could be for nature. In particular, the scene shows how innocent animals - the pigeons- can be turned into dreadful kamikazes by the Earth magnetic fields.
  • Relevance: Medium, in the scene many people are scared and injured because of the chaotic actions of the pigeons.Unfortunately, there are not consequences for the remaining film plot. 
  • Training level: Medium. Most of the animals are computer-made, but the ones that are real (like the one standing next to the bus driver) performs very well. 

Thursday, December 13, 2018

Pigeon Movie Database in the media


This section summarizes the appearances of this blog in public media. For us (me and the pigeons) it is always a matter of pride to be cited by the press. So here goes!



Time magazine cite us in the article entitled "Someone Created a Database That Tracks Pigeon Activity In Movies". From my point of view, the use of 'someone' sounds a bit dismissive. The good thing is that the article is quite positive and nice. For instance, they mention "[...] You may have missed these avian moments, but the eagle-eyed creators of the Pigeon Movie Database did not. They have documented and catalogued many, many instances of pigeons’ moments of cinematic glory. [...]"



The Independent also mentions this blog, in the article titled "The Pigeon Movie Database intrepidly charts the activity of pigeons in cinema". This title sounds somewhat more enthusiastic than the previous one. They also go straight to the main essence of this project: "A blog that gives in-depth analyses of pigeons in popular films.".

Over here, we will try to keep growing the database with more and more pigeon appearances.... in the hope that one day the pigeons will get the recognition they deserve in films.




Thursday, December 6, 2018

Prince of Darkness: a pitiful pigeon crucifixion

Title: Prince of Darkness
Year: 1987
Director: John Carpenter
Running time: 110 min.
Country: United States

In this horrific film a group of scientists are surrounded and killed by a gang of people possessed by Satan. John Carpenter exhibits muscle in a film that combines horror, violence and despair. In this context there is a pigeon appearance in a sequence that, at least for me, is the most revolting pigeon-scene I have ever witnessed in a film.


Here we can find the careless scientist falling into the trap
The scene occurs when one of the scientist leaves the building where he is working only to fall into a trap prepared by the satanically possessed homeless. The trap is quite simple: in a lonely and dark alley next to the building a strange object is laid on the floor that attracts the attention of the scientist (we all know about the inherent curiosity exhibited by the members of this community- the scientists).




When he approaches strange object he discovers that it is a pigeon crucified using two sticks, and  shortly after he is cornered by the bad guys (or rather, the possessed ones, because they may have originally been good persons). One of them, played by singer Alice Cooper, kills him using a stick in a quite violent way. A very sad ending to such a promising career....




After carefully watching the scene I am still unsure if the pigeon recorded in the scene was a real one - I sincerely hope not. I searched in the final credits and I couldn't find any statement showing that they have followed the Animal Welfare Act (AWA) or the federal Endangered Species Act (ESA). I hope that this little animal was not harmed in the film recording. No one deserves that, even for a damn good horror film. 


Details of the pigeon starring 

  • Source:  Prince of Darkness. Starring moment: 0:35:35
  • Pigeon activity: None, The pigeon appears dead by crucifixion.  
  • Symbolism: High. The whole film has a strong Christian undercurrent: a context of a group of scientists lead by a priest, evil itself contained in a church cellar, infernal possessions... in this context the miserable and cruel demise of an innocent pigeon that could be argued to represent the Holy Spirit can be seen as coherent (of course, from evil's perspective). 
  • Relevance: Medium. This scene represented the first death of one of the film's characters. The role of the pigeon was important to achieve this action. 
  • Training level:  Not applicable (the pigeon was dead). 

Friday, November 30, 2018

Ghost in the shell: what a feathered surprise!!

Title: Ghost in the shell
Year:  2017
Director:  Rupert Sanders
Running time: 107  min.
Country: USA




In this film I was surprised seeing a fascinating futuristic mega-city in Japan, altered humans with all kinds of cybernetic artefacts and plenty of action. But it also depicts poverty, social inequalities, corruption and a lack of respect for human-rights. A very sad futuristic perspective that at least was compensated by a feathered surprise.


Mira discovers the abandoned house that hosts the pigeons

When amnesia-sufferer "Major" Mira Killian (Scarlett Johansson) is in the search of her forgotten past she discovers an abandoned house covered with several pigeons that have adopted it as a resting place.

We can observe several pigeons flying and others standing on the roof


This peace is interrupted by the appearance of Ms. Johansson and the subsequent extreme violence scenes. Because of this, the Japanese pigeons serenely fly away. Fortunately, these pigeons do not seem to have any cybernetic implants.


Another screen shot with a nice pigeon siluetee 


Details of the pigeon starring 
  • Source: Ghost in the shell. Starring moment: 1:23:24
  • Pigeon activity: Even in a distant future, pigeons behave in the same way as today.
  • Symbolism: Pigeons are used to provide more realism to the abandoned scene that is being displayed.
  • Relevance: None. They only distract the protagonist for a short interval of time.
  • Training level: Low. They only fly in the distance.