Pelican Blood on DVD

Monday, 07 March 2011 06:02

It is not often that you come across a film about bird watching, aka twitching. To the uninitiated it probably sounds like a rather dull topic involving lots of sitting around in the damp, staring incessantly through binoculars on the off-chance that a rare bird might appear. In spite of this perception, director Karl Golden has created an excellent independent film full of drama, obsession, fascinating characters and wildlife.

Based on a novel by Cris Freddi, the movie stars Harry Treadaway (“Control”, “City of Ember”) as Nikko, and Emma Booth (Underbelly) as Stevie. As we join the story we discover that the young couple entered a disastrous suicide pact a few years ago. He tried and failed whilst she backed out. On Nikko’s release from a mental institution he bumps into Stevie again, and their tumultuous relationship threatens to reignite.

Pelican Blood comes to DVDThe film centres on Nikko’s emotional tussle between being with his two twitcher mates and Stevie, whom his friends and family heavily disapprove of for obvious reasons. He is passionate to the point of obsession about spotting birds but equally drawn to Stevie and her propensity for risky animal rights campaigning and living life on the edge. The contrast between the two sides of his life is truly spellbinding, though they share an obsessive vein.

The bird-spotting scenes are livened up no end by the interaction between Nikko and his stereotypical buddies Bish (Ali Craig - Sea of Souls), and Doctor Who’s Arthur Davill as Cameron. Bish is a hilarious Scottish hardnut, a bit like a less manic and watered-down Begbie from “Trainspotting”. Cameron is a straight-laced accountant type who makes everyone else look even wilder. Their jaunts into the countryside and London’s Wetlands Centre are also spiced up by clashes with an opportunist egg thief and an overly aggressive bunch of poachers.

Whilst the film’s more humorous antics are entertaining, the sensitive, emotional heart of the piece lies in its exploration of Nikko and Stevie’s inner darkness, what drove them to the edge before and seems to be unswervingly doing so again now that they have become reacquainted. They are both damaged souls who see in the other a reflection of themselves. The film manages to make sense of their actions, or at least help us understand why some people are driven to committing suicide when it is contrary to everything we know and feel.

I cannot recommend this spirited British indie film strongly enough. The acting is superb, the direction is tight and involving, the soundtrack is brilliant and above all it leaves you contemplating the nature of life and death and might even have you looking out of the window for some avian wildlife!

The only extra on the DVD is a 20-minute making of in which the charismatic Golden explains about the background to the film, in between clips, occasional cast and crew interviews and behind the scenes footage. Shame there is no a commentary track as the cast and crew’s take on a film covering a topic as heavy as this could have been fascinating. Finally, if you are wondering about the movie’s bizarre title, I cannot say any more other than that it is explained at the end!

“Pelican Blood” (2010) is out now, courtesy of Icon Home Entertainment. The main feature has a running time of 94 minutes approx, carries a ‘15’ certificate and retails for £12.99, or less from

Last modified on Thursday, 10 May 2012 16:37

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