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BMZ Review: Amazing Journeys
By Herb Lash


BMZ Review of Amazing Journeys
Written by: Herb Lash
Source: Big Movie Zone
Date: July 2001


Category: Reviews

Two of the strangest deaths I have ever witnessed involved Monarch Butterflies in the midst of a 2,500-mile journey that winds up in Michoacan, Mexico. The first involved a Monarch bouncing through the air, across a busy street, into the front of a passing bus and fluttering dead to the pavement. The second doomed Monarch floated over hot beach sand, against the wind and then too low over the water where it was quietly swallowed by a breaking wave. Travel is full of peril.  Why then, do so many different animals invite danger by leaving home? Amazing Journeys takes up the cross-species mystery of migration - the impulse to go, to survive, to reproduce and maybe, to return.

The film is an anthology of migrations. Butterfly, zebra, goose, crab, whale and water buffalo journeys are examined in brief, colorful and engrossing chapters. Nearly every branch within a Michoacan forest is seen literally dripping with mating and resting Monarchs. The Monarchs make this trek only once every four generations and only one in five survives the cross continental flap. Gray Whales navigate a 5,000 mile course through the Pacific to Baja lagoons where mothers and a warm current welcome newborn babies to the world. Water buffalo dodge hungry crocodiles, and geese always seem to know exactly where they are headed, day or night, rain or shine.  There is really no chance for the film to hit a slow spot or get bogged down in minutiae - new animals and  new images are always on the horizon.

Echo-location, magnetic fields, learned patterns, chemical-biological reactions - all of these are at least discussed in pondering the migration instinct. But the best moments in the film are visceral.  The chance for a long stare into a whale's dark eye gives the sensation of a real connection being made. There is something miraculous in watching a tide of Christmas Island red crabs wash over land and out to sea.  The giant screen lends itself well to the varied images of animals on the move - grand in number or great in size; the screen is always teeming with life.

The mystery of migration is kept at the forefront no matter which species is under discussion. Man is the last to be considered. The Masai herdsmen are perhaps one of the few peoples on Earth who maintain a fixed migratory pattern. Nietzsche thought the need for travel was a sort of mania, an attempt to escape our own selves. Amazing Journeys takes a different view.   Perhaps the human need to travel, to see other places and other things is the same force that inspired prehistoric man and woman to wander out of Africa and make the entire planet their home. The mystery of migration is part of the larger drive for survival - as yet another link in the amazing animal kingdom, man is in good company.

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Additional BMZ Reviews of Amazing Journeys

On the Wings of Butterflies by Ross Anthony

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