Parents' Choice Foundation: Reviewing Children's Media Since 1978

Winged Planet

Winged Planet

Spring 2013 Television
Ages: All Ages
Rating: TV G

Talk about a bird's eye view! Buckle up for Winged Planet, a spectacular special from award-winning nature filmmaker John Downer.

Four years in the making, the nature program offers footage of birds and by birds—all kinds of birds in all areas of the world—giving a glimpse of what it's like to soar high above the land. A bald eagle floats over the Grand Canyon. Snow geese head to Canada. Colorful parrots flock to Australia. Brown pelicans soar in Baja, and grey cranes travel to Southern France.

The close-up shots of the animals as they feed, stalk their prey or become the prey is unlike anything you've ever seen. It's both mesmerizing and eerie. And when the eagle swoops down to snatch a fish with its sharp talons, it's frightening. When a baboon bolts after a flamingo, you might gasp. Children will be getting a very realistic a view of nature. But all of it is completely awe-inspiring, especially slow-motion footage that makes some scenes look like paintings coming to life.

An added bonus is that Downer explains how he got all the seemingly-impossible frames of film, using model gliders and silent drones to capture his subjects in flight. He even put cameras on the backs of trained birds for some of the cinematography. The result is stunning.

Not only will you be fascinated by what you see, but you'll also be impressed by how this filmmaker pulled it off.

Ann Oldenburg   ©2013 Parents' Choice
Ann Oldenburg, a freelance writer and adjunct professor at Georgetown University, writes about television, celebrities and other pop culture topics. A University of Florida Gator with a degree in journalism, she began her career at The Washington Post and spent more than two decades with USA TODAY. She is the co-author of a travel guide book titled The Dog Lover's Companion to Washington, D.C. and Baltimore, with her husband, Don Oldenburg, a former Washington Post writer. She and Don, who have three sons, live in McLean, Va.

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