John Young Wildlife Films
Kingdom of the Jabiru
[54 minutes VHS] Producer/Director: Norm Wilkinson. Wildlife Cinematographer: John Young 2004 John Young Wildlife Enterprises Pty
Ltd. PO Box 428 Maleny, Queensland 4552 Australia. Phone: +61 7 5435 2123 http://www.johnyoungwildlife.com
Kingfishers [90 minutes VHS] Producer/Director: Norm Wilkinson. Wildlife Cinematographer: John Young 2004 John Young Wildlife Enterprises Pty Ltd. PO Box 428 Maleny, Queensland 4552 Australia. Phone: +61 7
John Young Enterprises was
new to me but John Young himself may well be a better known face in Australia as there he is renowned as a wildlife film maker. I am
something of an Australophile anyway having visited three times now birding all the way. I relished the prospect of seeing these
video tapes to remind me of a land I was in just a few weeks ago and to recall some of its magnificent birds. In that respect it was
Having said this, these two films are as different as Hollywood and Bollywood. Like these occidental and oriental systems both share high production values, skilled film technique and attractive players, but, like the East and West they remain poles apart.
For me Kingfishers is
everything a birder could want. 90 minutes of birds, more birds, and still more birds. It is very much my niche, ID tips and a set of
thorough species accounts illustrating calls, habitat, food preferences, mating et al. Patient filming and consummate skills bring us
long lingering shots of one of the most colourful and exciting bird families in the world, or at least, those of its denizens that
grace the bush and mangrove, rivers and forests of Australia. What is more one gets the bonus of the Rainbow Bee-eater too odd that
the Dollarbird is left out as these three families are linked in the phylogenetic tree and as the last two have just one
representative in Australia it might just as well have been included.
The narration is sparing and apt, neither wasted eulogies nor boring repetition just so much and no more spot on. What is more, John Young`s voice displays the enthusiasm keenly shown in his films.
So I should have enjoyed the
Kingdom of the Jabiru as much but it was not to be. It is too Hollywood for my taste being more the sort of thing one might
come across on the Discovery channel whilst channel hopping your satellite TV, watch for few minutes and then move on. It is in
essence a search for the missing shots needed to complete a life history of this large and wonderful bird. Echoing this search is the
journey of discovery for John`s female assistant as she tries to emulate her hero by climbing perilously close to the top of spindly
trees or wading chin deep through snake-infested swamps. Many among you will enjoy this tale but it was too Disney for this cynical
I like my nature programmes raw not pre-digested by the net nanny, and my obsession pandered too by more birds and less people,
more pictures that speak for themselves and less picaresque voice-overs.
So a mixed bag reviewed with more revelation about the reviewer than the film-maker no doubt. But, there you have it, you pays your money and takes your choice either choice offers good value, fine filming and plenty of singing cicadas and waving gum trees.
Created: 30th May 2004