Eye For Film >> Movies >> Brothers Of The Wind (2015) Film Review
Brothers Of The Wind
Reviewed by: Jennie Kermode
It's a sad fact that adults tend to lack patience with films aimed at children and, in the process, miss out on the good stuff. It's easy to be cynical when one has seen a lot of films with similar plots, but to young audience members, everything is new. This simple story of the relationship between a boy and an eagle speaks to cinema at its most magical. Stunning photography will inspire awe in anybody willing to let their guard down, and the film's message about the importance of empathy and respect is timeless.
The story is slight and only of minor importance to the film's overall success. Jean Reno plays an elderly woodsman living high up in the Austrian Alps, delivering narration like a traditional children's storyteller, so younger viewers won't question how he knows quite as much as he does. Seeing his role to be that of a guardian of all nature's creatures, he takes a particular interest in young eaglet Abel and in mute human boy Lukas (Manuel Camacho). After Abel's father dies in a spectacular fight in the film's opening scenes, Abel's mother lacks the resources to provide for both her offspring, and he is pushed from the nest. Lukas rescues him and the two bond as the boy finds in their friendship a refuge from his alcoholic father's bullying. But just as he must find a means of escaping from his intolerable domestic situation, Lukas must ultimately be willing to set his friend free.
The film was made entirely featuring real eagles, with much of the footage captured in the wild rather than scripted for trained birds. Of course, the scenery is a big help when it comes to creating drama, as is the fierce Alpine weather, but the skill and patience that have gone into creating this spectacular imagery should not be underestimated. We see tiny eaglets squabbling in their remote aerie, scenes of struggle in an icy river, the dramatic pursuit of wild goats down a precipitous slope and the comic difficulties of a claw-footed bird trying to walk across snow. There's breathtaking aerial footage of Abel gliding above the peaks, and we see the natural perils that even a top predator faces. Not that he's the only predator in the forest. Lukas, too, will face natural dangers before the story reaches its end.
Although the story gives the impression of having been rewritten several times to fit around the developing wild footage - Camacho's ageing making it difficult to rework earlier scenes - the boy's performance gives it heart and young viewers will find it easy to engage with. It's repetitive in places and some of the dialogue is twee, but there's more than enough visual brilliance here to make up for that. As a result, this is one of those rare films that really does reward family viewing.Reviewed on: 12 Jun 2018