HBO documentaries are seldom exactly "feel-good" fare, but "Saving Pelican 895" does offer a ray of hope at the end of a dark, oily tunnel.
A mere 39 minutes, Irene Taylor Brodsky's film follows the story of one pelican rescued in the wake of the BP oil spill and the heroic measures taken to save the bird and, along with others, reintroduce them into the wild.
The sight of these ungainly yet oddly majestic birds mired in gunk is uncomfortable, but it's hard not to come away with a strong sense of admiration for those committed souls who devote so much time and energy to undoing the collateral damage from this man-made disaster.
The intermediate length is also appropriate and one of those luxuries that HBO has as a pay channel — devoting no more time to this relatively small but illuminating tale than is required.
HBO's documentary arm has consistently advanced a powerful environmental message, at a time when the EPA and debate about climate change have put that movement very much under siege.
In its own way, "Saving Pelican 895" strikes another solid blow for those who fear what industry will do if completely unfettered — building its case, improbably, on the back of a spindly-legged bird.