Microcosmos (1996)

Posted by on Dec 19, 2011 in Fun With Animals | 0 comments


Disclaimer: A movie solely about insects – ewww, gross! It also shows them having sex and fighting on occasion.

While the word “documentary,” not to mention “foreign” or “silent,” often scares many viewers away – probably adults more than children – March of the Penguins should have been concrete evidence of their tremendous drawing power. And for those viewers that failed to be swayed by Penguins, allow Microcosmos to do the trick. While we may know very little about penguins, who reside thousands of miles away, we tend to know even less about insects, who reside a mere three- to six-feet away.

Using advanced film technology, which took the French filmmakers three years to develop and earned them the technical grand prize at Cannes, Microcosmos presents the oft-ignored yet vast landscape where those intriguing yet oft-killed creatures called insects reside.

In the film, backyards become mysterious jungles, blades of grass become towering skyscrapers, and cracks in the dirt become treacherous canyons. Like the unbelievable BBC series Planet Earth and Life, which I also highly recommend, Microcosmos shows nature as a complex and unappreciated work of art.

We typically don’t make much Microcosmos2of insects, other than a splatter mark, but the film will transform popular imagination by presenting them as almost frightening prehistoric animals, while at the same time fascinating and beautiful. The film shows hundreds if not thousands of insects as they go about their daily lives. Lines of caterpillars march, snails mate, spiders hunt, and ants tirelessly build complex homes and avoid predators. A Bug’s Life and Antz, though enjoyable, pale in comparison to this documentary’s incredible images and subjects.

Though the images are miraculous, the sound is also enrapturing, as a ladybug’s wings resemble a helicopter and raindrops resemble nuclear bombs. The music and sound seems befitting, as was Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey, as the filmmakers intermingle opera and classical favorites with the sounds of nature and almost no narration.

Five years after this undertaking, the French filmmakers took on a similar project, this time following imprinted birds with all manner of aircraft and cameras at incredible proximity (Winged Migration). The product is once again a visually mesmerizing documentary, but is far less compelling than Microcosmos, likely because we’ve gazed at birds for centuries and only our shoes have come in close contact with insects.

At moments it’s as exciting, if not more so, than many action films and as entrancing as an excellent piece of music or art. Plus, it’ll make those destructive children with magnifying glasses and inferiority complexes think twice before laying waste to these incredible creatures.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published.

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>