The Big Year is in movie theaters everywhere now. Well, maybe not everywhere. I understand that movies aren’t big in Somalia right now and the little town in New Mexico where I grew up no longer has a movie theater, but aside from minor exceptions like that, the movie is playing everywhere. And why not? It has Steve Martin, Jack Black and Owen Wilson in it and it’s a major movie about birding.
You read that correctly, a popular, well-funded, star-studded movie about birding. Based on the book by the same title by Mark Obmascik, the movie chronicles the unofficial competition between three men after a non-existent award for the most bird species seen in a single year in North America. Some human interest comedy has been added for the movie, but otherwise, it is a reasonably accurate portrayal of the book.
Of course, as usual in these matters, the book is better. And, if you live in Albuquerque, you can win an autographed copy for free. All you have to do is listen to KHFM (95.5), our local classical radio station and call in when you hear the ad for The Fat Finch. Not only can you win a copy of the book, you can also win a gift certificate for use in the store.
The birds are mostly accurate, even though a few are digital versions of their real-life counterparts and the flip book of birds at the end of the movie, during the credits, are the best reason to sit still until the lights come up. And this is a movie where the jokes are about non-birders instead of birders.
But the best reason to see the movie and to see it on the big screen is to reward all the people involved in it. Here is an attempt by Hollywood to show us something of the wild world and why we need to get out in it from time to time. Here, from the New York Times review of the movie is a sentence I wish I had written:
Birds are evidence of the miraculous and protean work of evolution and, more important, emblems of wildness in an overcivilized world.
It’s good to see a movie about them. And, after you’ve seen it, you’ll want to read the book again, either for the first time or for a re-reading. Then you’ll want to put on a good pair of hiking shoes, grab a pair of binoculars and go see some wildness.
PS. We’ve been away awhile and are glad to be back. Thanks for staying with us. This post is the 400th in the blog’s history and we just recently passed 800,000 views. Thanks to all our readers.