Little Wing: Is Granger the Pigeon Real or CGI?

‘Little Wing,’ the Paramount+ film, essays a coming-of-age narrative revolving around a 13-year-old girl, Kaitlyn, who takes the wrong route in dealing with the drastic changes her parent’s recent divorce brings. In an effort to hold on to her childhood home, Kaitlyn ends up stealing a famed pigeon racer’s star-bird— The Granger— and sells him illegally. As a result, once Jaan Vari, the pigeon racer, shows up at her door, it sends Kaitlyn on a reckless rescue mission. Furthermore, an unlikely bond sparks between the duo that ignites the girl’s fascination with the world of pigeon racing.

Consequently, The Granger and other pigeons— heavily featured within the film— remain an intrinsic part of the plot, pouring narrative and thematic resonance within the story. As such, viewers must be curious whether the birds were a tangible part of the filming process or if they were added post-production through special effects.

The Various Real-life Pigeons Behind Granger

In ‘Little Wing,’ Granger and the other central birds, Juliet and Charlie Tickets, were played by real-life pigeons, with likely little to no CGI involved in their depiction. In fact, numerous pigeons helmed Granger’s character, a role credited to seven actual birds, including Apollo, Brad, and Spot, among others. Likewise, the film employs real-life birds to play Juliet and Charlie. Interestingly, the latter’s “bird actors” consist of pigeons sharing ‘Star Wars’ themed names, Luke, Mando, and Grogu, alongside others.

Considering the emotional significance assigned to these birds within the narrative, their realistic inclusion seems like an intentional decision. Kaitlyn starts her story detesting her own pigeons— an inconvenient gift from a family friend— and only begins caring about one when she realizes the lucrative appeal of Jaan’s Granger. Nevertheless, the winged creatures remain excruciatingly reminiscent of the teenager’s own predicament.

Kaitlyn’s primary conflict revolves around her displeasure at moving out of her childhood home. Therefore, once she realizes that “pigeon racing” is built around the principle that pigeons always return to their forever homes, she starts bonding with her birds, Juliet and Charlie. Likewise, as her bond grows with Jaan, she begins to see the error of her ways in selling Granger away and strives to bring the bird back to his home.

As a result, Granger remains a fundamental cornerstone of the narrative, with his presence evoking emotional gravity in the characters. As such, it makes sense that the production team chose to retain Granger’s — alongside Juliet and Charlie’s— authenticity as characters by employing real pigeons during filming.

Thus, although VFX was still employed in the film’s making, it’s likely that the tool was simply used to enhance rather than fabricate. In fact, additional pigeons, uninvolved in the depiction of the central pigeons, also became a part of the film’s “crew.” Therefore, we can conclude that most of the pigeons the viewers see in ‘Little Wing,’ especially Juliet, Charlie, and Granger, are real-life pigeons.

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