PBS // 2012 // 60 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Appellate Judge James A. Stewart (Retired) // December 22nd, 2012
"Charming, funny birds that float in the tub -- but ducks are full of surprises."
An Original Duckumentary starts out, as you'd expect, with ducklings hatching. This is especially exciting because the ducklings, as they peer out of their shells, realize they are not on the ground, but high up in an oak tree. This sequence makes you wonder if this is where they got the metaphor about shy people coming out of their shells.
What happens next is beautiful to watch. One brave -- or foolish -- duckling dives to the ground. That duckling is soon followed by the rest of the former egg denizens. The descent is graceful, at least as captured by the cameras of the documentary filmmakers.
From here, there are a lot of graceful images of everything from feeding to mating. The documentarians behind Duckumentary manage to get the ducks from every angle. As the ducks swim, their feet are shown through an underwater camera. As they take their first flight, you watch the whole flock going aloft and then one or two ducks close up to see how it actually works.
Another thing you'd expect is some narration to go with this graceful footage. Paul Giamatti supplies it, with words that are at once poetic and punny; this is ducks we're talking about, after all. However, as you take in the splendor of ducks showing off their bright new feathers after molting, you probably won't be too interested in Giamatti's explanation of scattering light.
If you actually do want to learn something, you'll probably want to see the names of the various types of ducks onscreen. Duckumentary doesn't interrupt the flow with them, but does a roll call at the end so you can tell a hooded merganser from a green-winged teal. I thought that was a nice touch.
An Original Duckumentary started its life not high up in an oak tree, but nestled comfortably in the PBS series Nature. Thus, I'd guess the main purchasers would be libraries and schools. Even if its beauty makes you forget why you're watching, Duckumentary is still, at its core, that kind of educational, rainy day diversion.
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Scales of Justice
* 1.78:1 Anamorphic
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English)
* English (SDH)
Running Time: 60 Minutes
Release Year: 2012
MPAA Rating: Not Rated