The Hawk Is Dying

The Hawk Is Dying
Hawk is dying.jpg
Promotional poster for The Hawk Is Dying
Directed byJulian Goldberger
Produced byJeffrey Levy-Hinte
Mary Jane Skalski
Written byHarry Crews
StarringPaul Giamatti
Michelle Williams
Michael Pitt
Robert Wisdom
Ann Wedgeworth
Music byJonathan Goldberger
CinematographyBobby Bukowski
Edited byAffonso Gonçalves
Distributed byAntidote Films
Release date
  • January 21, 2006 (2006-01-21) (Sundance Film Festival)
  • March 30, 2007 (2007-03-30) (United States)
Running time
112 minutes
CountryUnited States

The Hawk Is Dying is a 2006 film based on the book by Harry Crews. It was accepted to the 2006 Director's Fortnight Competition at the Cannes Film Festival. It premiered at Cinema Village in New York City on March 30, 2007.



A Gainesville, Florida auto upholsterer George Gattling, played by Paul Giamatti, is a man out of place in the world and out of place in his own skin.

Gattling attempts to transcend his mundane life by training a wild red-tailed hawk. He owns University Custom Auto Shop and is the disgruntled patriarch of his family: his divorced sister, Precious, and her 20-year-old autistic son, Fred. He's also the unwitting case study of a "life-gone-wrong" for Betty, a young psychology student who works in the auto shop.

Gattling dreams of capturing and training hawks. It is an ancient art that requires precision (you only have a few days to succeed) and extremes (only through practically killing yourself and the bird are you brought together). It is the obsession he shares with Fred. In the quiet pre-dawn tracking of the birds, Gattling feels like a man temporarily freed from the absurdity of civilized life.

After several years of failed attempts, George and his nephew Fred capture the most magnificent bird they have ever seen—the red-tailed hawk. That night, Fred dies in a freak accident, drowning in his water bed. Grief-stricken, George sees his only chance to survive tied together with this bird. He becomes determined to tame her — meaning that he will not eat or sleep, nor will she, until it's all over. At his weakest moment, he locks himself into a battle of wills with the only creature on earth that would rather die than succumb. To the rest of the world, it appears George has gone mad; the closer he gets to achieving success, the crazier his family thinks he's become. Betty is the only one who realizes that George must take himself to the bottom to truly be saved. She watches as George is released into a world where the senses are awakened and emotions are unchecked—a world where one can see and feel the "blood of things".[citation needed]

The Hawk[edit]

The hawk Gattling captures in the story is a red-tailed hawk (Buteo jamaicensis). This is a common species in Florida. The bird used in the film is actually an African species in the same genus, Buteo augur, known as the jackal buzzard or African auger hawk. The hawk in the film was trained by Tony Suffredini of the company Avian Entertainment.


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