Le peuple migrateur
France, Germany, Switzerland, Spain, Italy
The Canada geese glide over New-York. The wood-pigeons, after hundreds of miles, arrive at the foot of the Pyrenees mountains, exhausted. They can hardly fly over the lower cols and are easy preys to the hunter's nets.
Far above the clouded summits of the Himalayas, bar-headed geese are sailing in a freezing cold and reduced oxygen. A company of cranes fly over the Himalayan valleys. At night, the geese stop on a frozen lake. An avalanche terrifies the birds that take off suddenly.
Aerial currents bring storks and buzzards effortlessly on their long migration route. Swept along in the same upward airlock, kites and western honey-buzzards soar towards Morocco and Africa.
The swallows brave the Mediterranean Sea. On the watch, falcons are waiting for their exhausted victims. The swallows have to skim the sea risking to be drowned. The storks cross over burning deserts. At night, they rest by an oasis. In the morning one of them will be found dead. But the survivors will reach the tropical paradise after having braved mythical trials. They will meet all sorts of extravagant-looking birds, such as flamingos, pelicans, jacanas.
Yet, the paradise becomes drier and drier. Cacatoes flutter above a water spot. The crickets and the drought make the place completely inhospitable for the birds. Suddenly, a front of flames rushes forward. A black dark smoke cloud will soon encounter the water-filled monsoon clouds that will bring life back.
In the tropical forest, sudden downpours resound. It creates a deafening noise. A real flood takes place, followed by calm and serenity. Birds wake up and, crescendo, a concert of screams and tunes invade the landscape. A toucan and a bird of paradise dance and parade. A stunning show!
After having flown over Patagonia, the black-necked swans fly over limitless meadows where the albatross nest. With the wandering albatross, we'll discover the severe, rough lands lost in the middle of boundless oceans, beaten by winds and waves. Through the tempest, a majestic albatross soars over the Roaring 50th, brushing monstrous crests. Enormous blue and white icebergs appear on the sea. A hole in the ice-floe: Suddenly a penguin jumps out and lands on the ice, followed by other penguins doing the same gym. A procession of penguins progressing through the Blizzard to the horizon. A polar night illuminated with an enchanting display of dawn lights will help us make a transition with the final shots of the return to France and to the little robin seen at the beginning of the film.
A year will have passed: a journey through time, seasons, infinite distances. Another vision of our planet. Another experience of the world. A new wisdom.
But fame did not go to his head, nor diminish his determination to "do the things he likes." At the age of only 27, he started up his own production company and caused a sensation with Z, a film produced in partnership with Algeria, directed by Costa Gavias and starring such celebrity actors as Yves Montand, Jean-Louis Trintignant and Fran9ois Mien Z was a worldwide hit and won the Hollywood Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film. This was the start of a fruitful working partnership with Costa Gavras, with whom Jacques Perrin produced State of Siege (1973) about the Tupamaros in Latin America and Special Section (1975) about the special tribunals set up in France during World War Two.
The subjects he picks are bold but he always puts quality first. In 1970 he produced a romantic medieval drama, Blanche, by Polish director Walerian Borowczyk starring Michel Simon, followed by a courageous documentary directed by Yves Courrier and Philippe Monnier, The Algerian War, which raised an intense debate in France. He produced another montage documentary, The Spiral, in 1974, this time about Chile, a film that endeavors to figure out what happened between the election of Salvador Allende as President of Chile on September 4th, 1970, and his assassination on September 1 lth, 1973.
Free-spirited, brave and idealistic, Jacques Perrin has never balked at the years of work demanded by certain film projects. At the same time, he refuses to listen to talk of "unreasonable" projects. If a film becomes a mainstream hit, so much the better, but first and foremost, Jacques Perrin follows his heart. This led him to win his second Oscar for Best Foreign Film in 1976 with Black and White in Color, a film with a deliberately philosophical story line directed by Jean-Jacques Annaud, who was an up-and-coming advertising filmmaker at the time. He followed this in 1977 with The Desert of the Tartars, adapted from a bleak, angst-ridden novel by Dino Buzzati, with a star-studded cast including Vittorio Gassman, Philippe Noiret, Laurent Terzieff, Jean-Louis Trintignant and Max von Sydow. The movie left him with debts but a great deal of pride and won the Grand Prize for French Cinema.
Over the next few years he produced numerous films of widely different styles and inspirations: Adoption, directed by Marc Granebaum in 1978; The Roaring Forties by Christian de Chalonge in 1981, The Monkey Folk by Gerard Vienne in 1988; Mddecins des hommes (six episodes produced for television) also in 1988; Out of Life, a film about the war in Lebanon directed by Maroun Bagdadi in 1990 (winner of the Cannes Festival Jury Prize); Guelwaar, about African identity and its rejection of first-world compassion, directed in 1992 by Ousmane Sembene; Erythrde, 30 ans de solitude, a documentary by Didier Martiny about the civil war in Eritrea; two more documentaries, Espdrance and D Day, produced for the Caen Peace Memorial in 1994; The Children of Lurnidre about the history of French cinema in 1995... The list goes on.
His irrepressible appetite for producing unconventional movies triumphed yet again in 1996 when Microcosmos, a spectacular big-screen documentary film about insects directed by Claude Nuridsany and Marie Perennou, was an instant smash hit in cinemas worldwide and went an to garner a slew of international prizes. In France alone it won five Cesar awards, including that for Best Producer.
Jacques Perrin's interest in the very special domain of wildlife films dates back to 1983, when he invited Gerard Vienne, director of The Territory of
Others and The Claw and the Tooth, to direct his production of The Monkey Folk, a movie that investigates the ancestral mythology of mankind The result, an exuberant saga devoid of anthropomorphic artificiality, was released in cinemas in 1988 and accompanied by a 12-part television series.
Also in 1988, he commenced his latest production, The Traveling Birds, about birds migrating around the world. In this film, true to his principle that "all living creatures without exception, plants, animals and humans, belong to one single, gigantic family tree," Jacques Perrin turns himself into a bird in order to see the planet more clearly, from the viewpoint of a free creature who "scoffs at our tight little national boundaries." To make the film, Jacques Perrin took his cameras all over the world, from the Arctic to Patagonia and from Japan to New Zealand. He chose Libya as his partner to present the approach to the African continent and the crossing of the world's most beautiful desert.
The Traveling Birds is a hymn to nature. Before it, Jacques Perrin produced the sublimely beautiful Himalaya, l'enfance d'un chef (a.k.a. Caravan), directed by the adventurer/photographer Eric Valli, about the daily life of an aging Buddhist village chief in the remote Dolpo region of Nepal. The film came out in 1999 and was haired for its beauty and authenticity. A worldwide hit, it was nominated for the 2000 Oscars.
For ten years, Jacques Perrin also produced and presented a weekly TV show, La 25Me heure, screened nationwide an the France 2 channel. This high-quality show was very popular with audiences and critics alike.
Dubbed "the white knight of French film production" by film critic Dani le Heymann, Jacques Perrin never looks back. "My life consists of projects," he says. "I run alter them and build them. Cinema is the third eye that never sleeps."
Cast & Crew
Directed by: Jacques Perrin
Written by: Jacques Perrin, Stéphane Durand
Produced by: Jacques Perrin
Cinematography: Michel Benjamin, Thierry Machado, Sylvie Carcedo, Stéphane Martin, Laurent Charbonnier, Fabrice Moindrot, Luc Drion, Ernst Sasse , Laurent Fleutot, Michel Terrasse, Philippe Garguil, Thierry Thomas, Dominique Gentil, Olli Barbé , Bernard Lutic
Editing: Marie-Josèphe Yoyotte
Production Design: Régis Nicolino
Original Score: Bruno Coulais
Sound Design: Philippe Barbeau
Nominations and Awards
- European Documentary Award – Prix Arte 2002