The Legend of Pale Male: The Bird Is Us
Director Frederic Lilien narrates The Legend of Pale Male with Werner Herzogstyle grandiosity, setting a comically over-the-top tone in keeping with his fanatical tale about the titular red-tailed hawk that took up residence in Central Park. In Liliens view, Pale Malelike the Belgian filmmaker himself, who fled a law careercame to NYC looking for something, even though he was no lost soul. Its a nonsensical claim the documentarian attempts to demonstrate by detailing the birds effect on many Manhattanites, who obsessively watched Pale Male and his mates at his 74th Street perch on a ritzy high-rise (four floors above Mary Tyler Moores apartment), and came to his defense when said nest was dismantled by a co-op board. The birds popularity resulted in national mini-celebrity and helped foster a sense of community among his admirers. Yet despite spending nearly 15 years documenting this phenomenon, Lilien proves wholly uninterested in investigating his human subjects habit of vigorously anthropomorphizing, and projecting their personal hopes, dreams, fears, and Daddy issues onto the striking hawk. Rather, his film merely celebrates their deificationPale Male is posited as no less than a combination of Spartacus, an icon of fatherhood, and God.
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