One of those rare family films that really will inspire the entire family rather than bore the adults, Fly Away Home (1996) begins rather hard-hitting for kids.
The mother of fourteen year old Amy (Anna Paquin, a thoroughly naturalistic young actress) is killed in a car accident, & the girl uprooted from her New Zealand home & shipped off to a farm in Ontario, Canada, to a father (Jeff Daniels) she scarcely knows.
Amy takes care of & hatches some Canadian goose eggs. The goslings imprint on her as their mother, & the charm of the geese growing up in her shadow, following her everywhere, relying on her for everything, is heartwarming stuff that does not need to be the least bit sentimental or cutesie to just be very simply wonderful to see.
There's also the relationship between the grieving daughter & her eccentric father, strangers who bond with assistance from the needs of the geese.
When the geese are grown & ready to fly south to winter feeding grounds, they need to be shown their migratory route. It is here the film takes on a heroic character.
Dad builds a goose-winged ultralight airplane with which Amy can fly at the head of her tame flock. Eventually she will lead her "children" on their first migratory journey.
This has actually been done with migratory birds raised by humans, so it isn't just a disneyesque flight of fancy. Everything that happens is perfectly feasible.
Caleb Deschanel's cinematography combines the best of nature photography with the best of feature film photography, the aerial relationship between Amy in the ultralight & her goose companions being an especially dynamic visual delight.
To young viewers this is a story of a cool daddy & a kid who is loved by a gaggle of geese. To adult viewers it is much more nuanced & sophisticated. The simple symbolism of Amy having lost her mother just as the nest of goose eggs lost theirs; of the necessity for their migration no less than Amy's from New Zealand to Canada...this sets up a specific undertow, upon which lies a story of recovery from the most sorrowful of losses & the regaining of joy for the wonder that is life.
copyright © by Paghat the Ratgirl