Sunday, July 30, 2006


Yesterday I watched TV, which is rare for me (although less so since classes finished). I was channel surfing, and I stopped on a channel that was showing what I thought might be A Bug's Life or something like that. (I have not seen A Bug's Life.) After a few minutes I realized that the bugs I was watching were not computer animations, but real. I wondered if it was a documentary, and if it was, where was the narration? There was music, but no narration. Also, even in the most beautifully photographed documentary, I had never seen anything quite like this.

I continued to watch, half bored at first, but slowly getting pulled in. My finger hovered over the remote button, but I did not change channels. After about five minutes I noticed that I had put the remote down and had moved closer to the screen. I made myself close my mouth, got comfortable, and gave in to the hypnosis.

Microcosmos is the most extraordinary film I have ever seen. It is utterly gripping and strange. Who knew caterpillars could be so funny? Or snails so shamelessly sexy? I certainly never expected to cheer on a dung beetle, but there I was, shouting encouragement at the screen. ("The problem is round the other side! The OTHER SIDE!") And those bees! My goodness! So that's why we talk about 'the birds and the bees.' (I still don't get the bird connection, I must admit, but the bee reference suddenly became rather ... explicit.)

The lack of narration is a perfect touch. The filmmakers have resisted the temptation to explain or bombard us with information. Visually the film is so stunning that narration would have been overload. There is a little narration at the beginning and end, I later read, but I missed the beginning. For most of the film there are no words to distract from the power and almost alien beauty of the images.

I told The Man about the film after he came home. I was still feeling a little stunned.

"Oh, yes, that one," he said. "We have that on DVD."

I was shocked. How could I have not known that? Easily, I realized - I so rarely watch TV or DVDs that he doesn't bother telling me any more when he finds a good one. But how wonderful. I can watch it again!

And that, really, is the highest recommendation I can give any film . I almost never watch films twice, but Microcosmos is one I want to watch again, and soon.

It is also a perfect example of how photography can change the way you look at the world.


Kay said...

Thanks, Badaunt--it's perfect for me to enjoy (like "March of the Penguins") with my 90-year-old last-stage-Alzheimer's Mom I am caregiving. Your blog has moved (in general, in look, feel, blogism, essentialiness) to superstaus and Bloggies status, huh......anybody agree?

kenju said...

Moved, or not, I have always liked coming here.

Now I HAVE to see that documentary! That is right up my alley, as we say. I watch one tonight about black bears in Montana (US) that was wonderful.