Top positive review
181 people found this helpful
on July 29, 2002
I have never been particularly interested in bugs. In fact, I have in most cases viewed them with a mixture of disgust, disinterest or (in the case of flies and mosquitoes, particularly) loathing. After watching this film, I want to become an amateur entomologist. It really is that revelatory and inspiring.
A team of Swiss, Italian and French cinematographers and naturalists take us to a lush meadow in the south of France and reveal, through microphotography, the unseen (or at least, generally unnoticed) inhabitants at work and play there.
This is nature documentary at its finest. Insects that we all take for granted are displayed close-up, and are revealed to be perfect in their symmetry of form, their coloration, their awesome design. It does give one a renewed sense of appreciation for creation in all its myriad forms: nature is diverse and abundantly versatile.
The film's creators, by supplying a sometimes playful, sometimes dramatic, soundtrack, add to the anthropomorphic qualities of the micro vignettes. For instance, the long, languid scene depicting snails mating is accompanied by a Puccini aria. Though this may sound trite (how many Puccini arias have been overused in recent years?), even loathsome, if one had the opinion of snails as slimy, ugly creatures that I had, it is instead one of the most beautiful, and dare I say, sensuous, scenes I`ve ever witnessed. Instead of noxious looking, the snails are beautiful, their intricately shaded and colored shells gleaming , as they engage in a pas-de-deux that would put Nureyev and Fonteyne to shame.
Also especially memorable is the segment involving a dung beetle, doggedly engaged in rolling a ball of dung up a slope of gravel. As he plods on, one can't help but admire his determination and his fortitude. He is a miniature Sisyphus, engaged in an eternal struggle in his uphill battle for survival. The ball of dung (about five times his size) becomes stuck on a sharp shoot sticking up out of the ground. He doesn't know why the ball won't move, yet he doesn't give up. He rolls and prods and shoves until finally he goes over to the side on which the ball is stuck and succeeds in removing it. Nature rewards perseverance. Actually, this could be thought of as one of the themes of the movie. All of these Hymenoptera, Neuropterans, and Heptira, etc., are hard workers, ceaselessly engaged in what they were put on earth to do.
Even the most detested of insects, the mosquito, is shown to be a part of the grand design at the conclusion of the film. In one of the marvelous time-lapse birth sequences that are a thread in the movie, a mosquito is shown forming from its larval stage on the surface of a pond. The viewer is not sure exactly what sort of creature it is until it finally flies off and we hear its all-too-familiar buzzing.
One way of thinking of this film is that it is the Cirque de Soleil of nature documentaries. The same sort of outside the box creativity went into this production. It's magnificent in every respect and should be seen and appreciated by viewers of all ages.