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  • Fly Away Home
    • Fly Away Home
    • Runtime:107 min
    • Release Date:2017-01-20 11:10:19
    • Director: Carroll Ballard
    • Genres: Adventure, Drama, Family
    • Studio:


How anyone cannot like and appreciate this movie is beyond me. It has
an incredible background in fact and is a moving tribute to the human
spirit. It also strongly shows that all is not completely lost in the
human race and that there is care among us and our fellow beings.

What an inspiring movie and so well filmed and documented. Each time it
is on, I watch it without fail. So nice to see true human caring and
responsibility to all things.

We can all learn something from the unwavering focus and support from
so many people in overcoming the charge and many times unnecessary
destruction of what is left of our former world and mostly in the name
of greed and money. It is so nice to see greed being beaten back! We
all can learn from this wonderful film.


Fly Away Home begins on a quiet note. A car driving in the rain, mother
and daughter exchanging glances. The focus goes from the windscreen to
the road, and back again. Suddenly and surprisingly, violence strikes.

This introduces a common theme in children's adventure stories – the
loss of one or both parents. It's the very same device that Ballard
used in his first film, The Black Stallion, and would use once again in
Duma. He's placed no inherent value in it as a plot device, however,
stating that "If you're going to have a parent die, that has to be the
emotional core of the movie". And that's just what it is in this case.
Amy (Anna Paquin) doesn't walk off to have fun with the animals simply
forgetting her past. But, in a way, this makes the focus less on nature
and more on the characters, which I'm not entirely certain was
Ballard's original intention. After all, his first two pictures
featured next to no human interaction, and this very thing was what
made the production of "Wind" so bothersome for him.

After watching Fly Away Home for the first time in nearly ten years, I
was struck by its high dramatic quality. Just a week earlier, I had
watched another, inferior animal film (also starring Jeff Daniels)
called "Because of Winn-Dixie". I realized then just how hard it is to
strike a balance between what is 'cute' and what is real. The
aforementioned film dove headlong into the 'cute' side of things.

At the sake of becoming too academic, this is one of the most beautiful
films I have ever seen. Caleb Deschanel's photography is effortless in
appearance, giving the sensation of weightlessness far more often than
in the actual flight sequences. Carroll Ballard has had great success
in choosing the best people to photograph his films, and this is a
great reunion for the two since their last collaboration on The Black
Stallion. Mark Isham takes a totally different approach from his
stunning minimalist score of Never Cry Wolf, reaching for – and
sometimes – tugging at your heartstrings. In fact, the music is really
quite spectacular throughout, except for a rather long and out of place
interlude to "10,000 Miles" by Mary Chapin Carpenter. This would have
been better suited earlier in the flight, it's current placement
feeling a little off. It seems reminiscent of Linda Ronstadt's song
"Winter Light" in a 1993 version of "The Secret Garden" (That film, by
the way, I highly recommend for fans of Carroll Ballard).

As this film progresses, it moves beyond the relationship aspect as Amy
makes a discovery in the forest – geese eggs. In a way, her rescuing
and raising of these orphaned chicks helps her to heal from her own
loss. At its heart, this film is about loss and rebirth. This takes the
story of Fly Away Home into new territory, less about the human aspect,
and more about nature.

All the supporting cast is good and effective (especially Terry
Kinney), but Jeff Daniels and Anna Paquin are the central dramatic
point which the other actors center around. I've never seen a more
lively or energetic performance by Daniels – it's the sort of role he's
always excelled at. Paquin, on the other hand, is in a rather uncommon
role for her, a simple, more unrestrained character. Without her, or
another exactly suited child (of which I know none), the film's
dramatic half would have collapsed in on itself. But for all the geese,
the drama and the cinematography, it's the moments of quiet that stand

As the film comes to a close, there are certain factors that bring in a
lack of realism. The human and media response to the flight south seems
as if borrowed from another film. This perhaps brings the story to a
bit of an anti-climax. The 'evil corporate developer' subplot seems
lifted from other, less imaginative films. Regardless of the slightly
weak ending, perhaps no other conclusion would work better, not without
a significantly longer running time.

It's a delicately balanced film, and I greatly respect its director for
that. There's no immature jokes, no animals being too cute, or
overwrought melodrama. For the most part, it feels natural, and the
characters act like real people. I appreciate that in a youth-oriented
film. I've long since grown out of other movies such as Free Willy, but
this film has stuck with me since childhood – and I appreciate it more
now than when I first saw it as a kid myself.

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