Sunday, January 29, 2012

Mars attacks: the pigeon that almost annihilates the human race

Title: Mars attacks
Year: 1996
Director: Tim Burton
Running time: 106 min.
Country: United States

Humans finally met aliens. There was great joy on the human side. Everybody was thinking about how we were not alone in the universe and that we had found new friends. Probably the aliens were also excited.... but thinking of a very different kind of friendship. We prepared a big reception in the Nevada desert. Everything was fine, the alien spacecraft landed, the Martian ambassador went out and the first contact was made.  General Casey started the greatest speech of his entire military career.... "On behalf of the people of Earth, welcome!!"

Lovely...... Everything was fine until we made a mistake: a peaceful-harmless dove was released by a pseudo-hippie. This dove apparently scared the aliens and they shot it down as well as most of the human attendees. In the end, the aliens only wanted an excuse to start a military invasion... exactly like us during many moments of our history.  The analysis of the President of United States is very funny: [...] this could be a cultural misunderstanding. Yeah. Maybe to them, doves mean war. We all saw how they reacted to that dove. It frightened them [...]   It is like in “Lost in Translation” but with evil aliens. The complete scene can be seen here.

Just one technical comment: for recreating the flight and death of the dove a computer-graphic representation was used instead of a real dove. This imagery is of very poor quality because in 1996 the software models were not well developed.

Details of the pigeon starring
  • Source: Mars Attacks. Starring moment: 00:40:04
  • Pigeon activity: It was held in the pacifist's hands, then it flew freely and finally it was shot to death.
  • Symbolism: The dove symbolizes peace. A peace that was not respected by the aliens.
  • Relevance: Very high. It was assumed that the dove triggered a large scale interplanetary war. Even the President of United States complained about this animal.
  • Training level: High. It is a lovely dove that is used to being caught in human hands.

Special Issue: cosmetics, pigeons and droppings

In this first special issue we address the inclusion of pigeons in the World of Cosmetics. The cosmetics industry extracts many of its raw materials from plants and animals. One original idea comes from Japan:  they produce a facial treatment made from nightingale droppings. This is a very exclusive product that is highly popular among the wealthy classes -for instance, it's been hailed that Victoria Beckham uses it. Our team discovered a local Spanish enterprise that has plans of emulating it at low cost. The key idea is to use pigeon droppings as the raw material for a luxury face cream. Our team organized a visit to this factory, in Lugo, North-West of Spain. This is the interview that we held.

We arrived at the farm, Mrs. Antelo was waiting for us. Is this a farm or a cosmetic factory? I asked, looking at the chickens. Well, we are just starting, she said smiling.... I like to say that this is a family business.

An artistic picture of a wild pigeon in the farm gardens. Later we discovered that it was trying to get into the facility.

This is a bio-sustainable enterprise. It is in countryside and it doesn't pollute.  Green and feathered, is our slogan. The facility consists of a big glass house which contains the pigeon habitat and a small attached building where the cosmetics are produced. Mrs. Antelo explained the idea to us: here, the pigeons live in the glass house. Is is a 130 sq. meter habitat. and includes everything they need.... water supply, grass, some little trees and the shelves where they nest. Of course, we feed them with a special food.... this is the key element of our product. It is a mixture of seeds, seaweed and oligoelements. They are confined inside the habitat, so we keep complete control of everything they eat. By the way, here comes Raffaela. A pigeon approaches and curiously looks at us. It is funny, I think, that they use human names for the pigeons.

 All the pigeons are born in the habitat. They are kept for 2 years and then released. We do this because we need young animals and it is actually a shame, because they are happier inside than outside. At the beginning they try to come in, but after a while they realise that it is impossible and give up. They start a new life in nearby towns. Every pigeon passes a weekly test. We analyse the weight, health and presence of parasites. In this picture we can see Alexandra's weekly check-up.

 So, what is the idea of all this? I asked. For first time in the interview Mrs. Antelo's expresion is serious. Well, we collect the pigeon droppings. Actually, we don't collect all of it, only the ones deposited close to their nests, for ease of collection. We have plastic containers around the nests. This raw material is very rich in nitrates, phosphorus and potassium. In addition, it contains chemicals related to their special diet that are key elements for the final cosmetic product. Then, in the lab, the pigeon poop is sterilized, processed, the Ph is corrected and some extra ingredients are added in order to produce the final cosmetic.

It is important to detect the harmful presence of fungus in the pigeon droppings

But it is pigeon poo! I exclaimed. Mrs. Antelo smiles again. Yes, in the end it is, but it works!! Now, we are going to apply for the approval of the Health Ministry. We currently have two products, the soft and hard peeling. We are currently testing them on ourselves and on volunteers from the nearby villages. The soft peeling is similar to the Japanese product, but the hard one.... trust me, it is awesome. For two days your face burns and you need painkillers and heavy moisturising creams, but after that, the skin on your face as soft as a baby's bum.

Why don't you use pretty doves instead of pigeons? I asked naively. Mrs. Antelo laughs very loud "different colour, same poo".

King Pigeon Jr.

Pd.- Please, don't try to use pigeon droppings on your face at home. It is a very abrasive substance. 

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Four Eyed Monsters: alternating pigeons and boudoir scenes

Title: Four Eyed Monsters
Year: 2005
Director: Susan Buice, Arin Crumley
Running time: 85 min.
Country: United States

Arin and Susan had a real life romance which is reproduced in this movie. During the movie recording they decided to include a bedroom scene and the problem was to find another recording that could be alternated with it. What was the solution? Very easy: the use of pigeons. Lots of pigeons.

In the movie, we can see the progress of a huge flock of pigeons. The boudoir scene starts in tandem with the flock taking off and finishes with their landing. In between, some (human) sex scenes.

Details of the pigeon starring

  • Source: Four Eyed Monsters. Starring moment: 0:30:36
  • Pigeon activity:  A flock of pigeons that are scared and fly away and subsequently land.
  • Symbolism: Mixing pigeons and bedroom scenes is a very bizarre idea but in this movie it is well performed. There are two main interpretations of this idea. The first one is that the takeoff, flying and subsequent landing is a journey similar to the phases of sexual intercourse. Something like: did you enjoy the flight? The second interpretation suggests that the use of a large flock of pigeons has the appearance of a dynamic movement that could reflect other kind of movements produced by the protagonists during the bed scene.
  • Relevance for the movie: None. It is a mere metaphor introduced in the movie.
  • Training level: Low. These are wild pigeons. They were scared and recorded in their urban habitat. In the last picture we can appreciate that many pigeons are scared, looking at the camera.

    King Pigeon Jr.

    Thursday, January 26, 2012

    Tiempo de valientes: face to face with angry birds

    Title: Tiempo de valientes
    Year: 2005
    Director: Damián Szifrón
    Running time: 110 min.
    Country: Argentina

    This is a very funny Argentinean action movie. The main character, Mr. Silverstein infiltrates a government building without a clear plan. Soon, everything becomes a mess and he has no other option but to walk on the building's ledge. What is he faced with? Angry birds.... more specifically... angry pigeons.

    I think that the movie production quality is good but the pigeon appearance should be improved. Clearly, it was recorded in a studio with domestic pigeons. The pigeons are physically thrown against Mr. Silverstein. It is dramatic -especially for the pigeons that seem to be scared- but it is not very realistic. Anyway, the scene is good and creates tension in the spectator.  

    Details of the pigeon starring 

    • Source: Tiempo de valientes. Starring moment:: 1:21:18
    • Pigeon activity:  Flying close to the main character.   
    • Symbolism: There is little symbolism in this scene. The pigeons are presented as urban animals whose environment is invaded by Mr. Silverstein. For these situations, the normal behaviour of the pigeons is to be afraid and escape. However, in this movie they are thrown by force against Mr. Silverstein.
    • Relevance for the movie: The pigeons almost kill the main character!!
    • Training level: Medium. The pigeons are well trained but are not properly managed.

    King Pigeon Jr.

    Monday, January 23, 2012

    Spartacus: leveraging pigeons for getting a gladiator's friendship

    Title: Spartacus: Gods of the Arena
    Year: 2011
    Director: Steven S. DeKnight, Rick Jacobson
    Running time: 40 min.
    Country: United States

    In Capua, 75 B.C., the relationship between Crixus and Barca is becoming unbearable. That morning, Barca's lover has been killed by Crixus during a tough fight in the arena. Crixus is a tough guy, but he has a sense of companionship, so he wants to make peace with Barca. In the scene, Barca is alone and his only company is the pigeon which he raises. This is not the only example of fighters with feathered pets.  Just try to Google Mike Tyson + dove.

    Returning to the episode, Crixus asks himself: What is the best strategy to make peace with the beast of Barca? Very simple: to try to be the friend of his favorite pet. Consequently, Crixus goes to talk with Barca and offers him a piece of bread for his pigeon. Cool, right?

    The first scene is interesting: we can see a pigeon that is the protagonist for 3 seconds. Crixus comes in but -because of the pigeon protagonism- he is completely blurred.

    Then we can see Barca, who is initially staring at his pigeon, and then, he faces Crixus -with a highly constrained rage.Thanks to the pigeon, the peace and friendship between two gladiators is reestablished.

    Details of the pigeon starring 

      • Source: Spartacus: Gods of the Arena. Episode 2x04. Starring moment: 0:20:49
      • Pigeon activity:  resting in the gladiator's hands.
        • Symbolism:  My hypothesis is that the pigeon has a crucial role in the scene, as it represents a catalyst that prevents the clash of these two characters.
          • Relevance: In a cruel Roman world, a tough gladiator (Barca) uses pigeons to get some peace. Perhaps during that morning, he bravely killed several men during a killing rampage, but in the afternoon he takes care of his beloved creatures. In this character the pigeon transmits peace and calm, which is efficiently exploited by Crixus to make peace. What if Barca had been training with a sword instead of stroking a pigeon? Probably they would fight to the death, completely changing the course of this tv series.
              • Training level: very high. This is a domestic pigeon explicitly used during the movie recording.  

              Sunday, January 22, 2012

              Blade Runner: I want to die with a dove in my hands

              Title: Blade Runner
              Year: 1982
              Director: Ridley Scott
              Running time: 112 min.
              Country: United States

              Roy's life is expiring and he can't do anything about that. Deckard is a mere spectator of his agony. But Roy doesn't want to die alone, or in the company of the evil man that killed all his friends. Roy chooses a pure friend during his agony. He chooses a dove. Rest in peace, Mr. Roy.

               I really like science fiction. I saw this scene many many years ago in my childhood and I still clearly remember this white dove in Roy's hands.

              Note: I'm not mentioning Roy's memorable speech because this is a blog about pigeons.It can be seen here.

              Roy's last speech

              Pigeon flight

              Details of the pigeon starring

              • Source: Blade Runner. Starring moment:: 1:41:56
              • Pigeon activity:  A dove resting in Roy's hand.
                • Symbolism: It is very interesting to see Roy's character: a replicant that is a soldier and a killer. A tough guy that chooses a pure dove during his final moments of agony. Just try to imagine Rambo doing the same. However, I think that this act is very well performed in Blade Runner. My hypothesis is that the dove represents Joy's soul, leaving his dead body and ascending to... heaven?. I think that it proves that replicants have souls.
                • Relevance for the movie: High. The dove is used to prove that replicants have souls. This is an important question that is raised during the entire movie. 
                • Training level: High. This is a well trained dove.

                King Pigeon Jr.

                Game of thrones: is Daddy a pigeon now?

                Title: Game of Thrones
                Year: 2011 
                Director: David Benioff, D.B. Weiss, Timothy Van Patten, Brian Kirk, Daniel Minahan, Alan Taylor
                Running time: 55 min.
                Country: United States

                In the ninth episode, at King's Landing, Lord Eddard Stark's situation is becoming critical. In fact, he  is publicly beheaded in presence of his daughter Arya. During this tragic act, Arya can't  bear to see how  her father's head is severed and she looks at the sky. What does she see? A flock of pigeons. 

                Details of the pigeon starring

                Note: The following terms are related to the pigeons, not the girl. 
                • Source: Game of Thrones. Episode 1x09. Starring moment: 55:00.  
                • Pigeon activity:  A flock of pigeons flying away.
                • Symbolism: I think it's interesting to relate the death of Lord Eddard to the pigeons. My hypothesis is that the birds symbolize the soul of Lord Eddard, which is now free to fly away from the insane universe of Game of Thrones. In this case, the presence of pigeons has an important significance because it is a point of relief for Arya.  My interpretation of this scene is that Lord Eddard's soul becomes a flying dove.  
                • Relevance: The use of pigeons creates in Arya a relief from the traumatic experience of her father execution. Perhaps because of the pigeons she doesn't get hysterical and she eventually can escape from the Lannister clan.
                • Training level: None. They are wild pigeons.

                King Pigeon Jr.