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Western Animation / Yellowbird

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A 2014 French film produced by Haut et Court and TeamTO and directed by Christian De Vita.

The film centers around Yellowbird, a cowardly shut-in whose only friend is a ladybug. He is afraid of venturing into the outside world and living life as a real bird should. In a bid to help a total stranger and prove he has mettle, Yellowbird takes on a challenge far bigger than anything he's faced before. He embarks on a harrowing journey across Europe and realizes that few things are as meaningful as friendship.

Notable for having art direction by Benjamin Renner of Ernest et Célestine fame, and Seth Green voicing the titular bird.


This film contains the following tropes:

  • Affectionate Nickname: The titular character, who has no true name, is thus called "Yellowbird" due to the color of his feathers. This changes in the film's final scene, as Delf decides to call him Sam. Maggie says: "Sam, yeah, I think that suits you perfectly." The other flock members concur and the matter is settled at last.

  • Artistic License – Geography: Though the flock has arrived in Africa, the impressive trees dotting the landscape bear an uncanny resemblance to Grandidier's baobab, Adansonia grandidieri, which is a species native not to Africa, but Madagascar. The two baobab species native to Africa, A. digitata and A. kilima'', don't grow as tall. This change was most likely done to boost the visual appeal of the flock's home region.

  • Contrived Coincidence: After being caught in a storm, Yellowbird and the flock he's leading stumble upon a derelict oil tanker sticking almost straight out of the sea. Despite showing numerous signs of being abandoned many years in the past, its internal structure begins disintegrating and it starts to sink just minutes after they take shelter inside it.

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  • Dance Party Ending: During the first part of the credits, the main characters show off their unique dance moves in short routines. The song playing in the background is "Yellow" by French DJ 20syl [1].

  • Earn Your Happy Ending: Yellowbird's unorthodox plan to ride the iron bird proves to be the correct call, as it gives the flock a free ride to their destination. Despite all the misfortune the flock endured on their long journey, much of which he was to blame for, they make it to Africa safe and sound. Yellowbird earns his new name, Sam, and is forgiven by the other flock members. Last, but not least, Sam and Delf presumably become a couple.

  • Chekhov's Skill: Yellowbird uses his "Hardboard Roll" game to bring Karl back to the plane.

  • Face Your Fears: All the members of the flock, Sam included, are under the impression that planes, which they call "iron birds," eat birds. Towards the end of the film, Sam realizes that they "eat" humans and "spit them out" somewhere else unharmed. He convinces the flock that the planes pose no threat and eventually they board one.

  • Feather Fingers: Averted. Though the characters use their primary feathers to touch objects on a few occasions, they do not use them to grasp things, nor are their feathers under conscious control like actual fingers are.

  • Glamorous Single Mother: Maggie. Her oldest son Max can take care of himself just fine, but looking after her younger children, Lisa, Anton, and Gigi, is hardly a walk in the park. Regardless, she maintains a cheerful demeanor and is rarely seen without a smile.
    • The father of her children is never seen or mentioned, and the reason behind his absence is never touched upon either.
      • As evidenced by their interactions throughout the film, she and Willy, another member of the flock, seemed to have developed a romantic interest in one another.

  • G-Rated Drug: Some of the birds fly far above above the clouds and really enjoy the effects of the thinner air found at higher altitudes. The decrease in the amount of available oxygen leads to cerebral hypoxia. This in turn results in an altered state of consciousness and euphoria.

  • Groin Attack: The titular bird gets one in Paris, being clumsy and all. Immediately after the collision, he utters this line in a pained voice: "Scrambled eggs..."

  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Karl. Throughout the movie he complains about Yellowbird's abilities as a leader and calls him a moron. Near the end of the movie, when Yellowbird got stuck in the snow, Karl rescued him. In the final scene, Karl admits that Yellowbird's suggestion to hitch a ride on the "iron bird" was a pretty good idea.

  • Liar Revealed: After leading the flock into a snowstorm, Yellowbird can't bear the shame any longer and comes clean about the secret he'd been hiding. He confesses that Darius told him that Karl was supposed to guide the flock to Africa. Yellowbird explains that he ignored Darius' instructions and took charge himself because he wanted to be a respected member of a flock for once. The confession does not sit well with any of them, especially Delf, who trusted him the most and consequently was hurt the most.

  • Maybe Ever After: Over the course of the film, it is hinted that Delf and Yellowbird gradually take a romantic liking to each other. They don't explicitly state they've become more than friends but it is heavily implied.
    • In Paris, while talking to Delf, the spirit of his ladybug friend appears, who Delf can't see. Yellowbird repeats everything the ladybug says and blurts out: "And you're kinda cute, don't ya think?"
      • When the flock take shelter inside the oil tanker, they soon grow hungry and split up to search the ship's interior for food. Delf and Willy team up and begin exploring, and the former wonders why Karl is being so mean to Yellowbird. Willy's reply leads her to think he is taking Karl's side. He then adds: "If you've got a crush on him that's one thing." Taken aback, Delf hastily answers: "What? No, I... I don't... that's not it at all." Willy then says: "It's okay if you do" to which Delf has no response.
      • In the final scene of the film, the flock treats Sam to a proud group hug. Delf and Sam press their heads together and, after separating, gaze at each other tenderly. They also dance together during the credits, touching beaks and smiling at one another.

  • No Antagonist: A rarity in an animated film of this type. The focus is less on a villain to defeat, and more on acclimating to the different personalities of the blue bird family members.

  • Shaking the Rump: Karl, Sam, Delf, and Anton all give their tail feathers a shake during their respective dance scenes in the credits.

  • Shout-Out: While stranded somewhere in Scandinavia, lying in the snow and out of hope, Yellowbird gets woken up by the ghost of his ladybug friend who is there to help.

  • Shown Their Work: When the flock arrive in Holland, a region on the west coast of what is officially the Netherlands, they stop to rest in a tree hotel near the Norwegian Sea. Numerous windmills can be seen spinning in the background. Historically, windmills were built to pump water out of the lowlands for crop irrigation, while others were instead constructed for the purpose of grinding grain.
    • In addition, the members of Darius' flock were all modeled after a real bird species, the European roller [2].