Saturday, September 22, 2001

BIO: Owls, Biospoilers and Other Birds

WARNING BIOSPOILERS -- Harry Potter and The Outsiders

Folks who know me well know that for several years i have been collecting instances of poor biology in film -- i call them biospoilers. The idea is that folks with a natural bent can be annoyed, distracted, and just plain bummed out by the license taken by filmmakers. I have an unfinished webpage devoted to this, and will eventually hone it and sent it out on the blogorail.

I bring this up, because girlscientist has just put out her regular Birds in the News feature (which is an especially fine roundup of recent news anyways -- check it out here), and in it is a link to a site which talks about the owls used in the Harry Potter films. What's creepy is that i just today came across a mention of this site birderblog.com and was about to add it to my blogroll!

So, last week we were having movie night for the kids here and chose The Outsiders, the Francis Ford Coppola dramatization of S.E. Hinton's novel. It was the breaking vehicle for a slew of young actors including Rob Lowe, Tom Cruise, Ralph Macchio, and C. Thomas Howell. Of course, even though it was my DVD i hadn't watched it, and hadn't seen the film in many years, so i was taking notes.

The locale is Oklahoma, exactly where is not a part of the movie, so that's a non-issue. And the Barred Owl (Strix varia) used in the old church scenes is reasonable for the geography. It's not a bird that normally is found inside buildings though, like a Common Barn-Owl (Tyto alba) might be. So i guess to make up for that, or in pure serendipity, the voice they use for the owl when the boys spook it from the church is a barn-owl voice. Later they use a Great Horned Owl's (Bubo virginianus) voice for it.

The other goof is that a bunny plays a cameo role, first to establish the "wildness" of the place, and later as a potential meal. Well, the native rabbits of the area might include Eastern Cottontail (Sylvilagus floridanus), Desert Cottontail (Sylvilagus auduboni) or Black-tailed Jackrabbit (Lepus californicus) depending on where in Oklahoma we are (though it looks mostly like Eastern Cottontail territory) -- but most definitely not the European Hare (Oryctolagus cuniculus) that was used. At least they used a plain brown one instead of a pied version in some nod to authenticity.

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