[Note: This review of "The Legend of Pale Male" appeared in the Nevada City Advocate newspaper as part of a set of reviews for the 8th Wild & Scenic Environmental Film Festival.]
A red-tailed hawk soars and hunts and nests without fanfare.It lords over its dominion without entitlement beyond the wind across its wings and its devotion to a reproductive cycle.
Fanfare.This is a word meant for humans.Consider the tale of “The Legend of Pale Male.”With a humble flavor of self-indulgence, Frederic Lilien has crafted a documentary film about a red-tailed hawk.He shows how that hawk has enthralled a human audience for almost two decades.
The fact of a red-tailed hawk around Manhattan’s Central Park is a rarity.It caused human beings to establish vigilant rituals, communal gawking, and rallied sense of purpose.It inspired the exercise of photography, binoculars, videography, telescopes, and media attention.This wild creature stirred connections and hopefulness, at once mundane and expansive.More so, perhaps, because this link to nature unfolded in the heart of New York City.
The warming sentiments documented in “The Legend of Pale Male” carry you way past any inclination to think this is just a lot of bruhaha about a bird.
Pale Male, as the hawk was named by an enamored journalist, built his nest on the 12th floor of a posh Fifth Avenue address.He “married” four times over the years, and sired many a child.It is this family saga that most enraptured Pale Male’s fans, especially the prospect of youngsters leaping from the nest in first flight.
The story acquires a twist that could have dissolved some of its sweetness, but the twist is integral to this very human story about a bird, and the filmmakers handle it well.They help you be willing to think that Pale Male appreciated the loving stir he caused … or at least accepted the fanfare that seems to define the human beings constantly hanging around his adopted home.