It’s rare that there is actual quality behind a family film. It’s even rarer that everyone on board takes it seriously. Yet “Fly Away Home” fills both those categories. The film, released in 1996, not only captured our imaginations but our hearts. Yes, I did just write that cliche, and no, I’m not proud of it.
However, there are a few films that really take that concept and fully embody it. This brings us to “Fly Away Home,” one of those magical ’90’s films that featured animals as a primary character. In the same vein as “Babe,” or “Free Willy” a creature was featured at the center of the story that was about the journey of the humans involved. While there are no talking animals this time, it still hit home in a dramatic way.
Which One Is That?
Jeff Daniels and Anna Paquin raise a group of Canadian Geese and fly with them to the Carolinas. It seems like a ridiculous concept, but this actually happened. The result of the film is a surprisingly sweet movie that continues to showcase some really cool visuals in the process. The story was both uplifting and cinematic from start to finish. While the story seems simple, the underlying emotions and performances elevate the material.
The flying scenes can leave you breathless. There are a lot of key scenes that pop up once the geese are actually airborne. Not only does it start as a thriller (they steal the geese back), but then the story becomes a race to North Caroline. There are thrilling scenes in the air, including one where the weakest goose actually hits the flying machine Anna Pacquin is in. Later, Pacquin has to finish the journey on her on without the help of her Dad. These scenes are exciting and help the movie stick in your mind.
Long Lasting Takeaway
That cinematography is still extremely strong even twenty years later. In the years before CGI was regularly used, the images of practical effects flying across the skyline were something inspiration. The trailer below features some of those awesome shots.
While the small film shouldn’t feature cinematography this good, it really elevates the movie overall. The visual of a girl flying through the sky with the geese should really hit. It does, over and over again. Cinematographer Caleb Deschanel has consistently elevated films over the years. His best feature to date is still “The Right Stuff,” which followed jet pilots as they entered the Apollo Space program (it’s an 80’s epic that’s going to get We Miss VHS treatment soon). Deschanel also shot “The Passion of the Christ,” “National Treasure” and “The Patriot.” He’s currently shooting the new “Lion King” from Jon Favreau. Deschanel has 5 Oscar nominations in his career, and “Fly Away Home” might be his best low key work.
The movie was a hit with critics and audiences alike. “Fly Away Home” picked up an 87% on Rotten Tomatoes, with most critics citing the director and actors bringing it. The film actually made its way into Awards season in a pretty big way. Not only did Deschanel’s cinematography pick up an Oscar nomination (it lost to “The English Patient”), but it got nominated at the American Society of Cinematographers awards as well. So it wasn’t just feel good film fans that put this one in. It was a legit contender. The film also went on to win the Best Family Film category at the Broadcast Film Critics Society awards in 1997. The film also took in about $56 million at the box office worldwide. However, only $25 million of that was from the US.
The film remains a childhood favorite but has little impact outside of that. A Blu-Ray was released in 2009, which you can pick up on Amazon for $13. The movie only has a little over 800 reviews on Amazon, and 20,000 on IMDb. It’s a solid flick but considering it’s not available on streaming services, it’s unlikely to turn those figures around.