Microcosmos: Le peuple de l'herbe (1996)

MICROCOSMOS (Microcosmos: Le peuple des herbes)

(director/writer: Claude Nuridsany/Marie Pérennou; cinematographers: Thierry Machado/Hughes Ryffel/Claude Nuridsany/Marie Perennou; editors: Florence Ricard/Marie-Josèphe Yoyotte; music: Bruno Coulais; cast: Kristin Scott Thomas (Narrator); Runtime: 80; MPAA Rating: G; producers: Galatee Films/Jacques Perrin/Yvette Mallet/Christophe Barratier; Miramax Films; 1996-France-in English)
“Should give the viewer a buzz.”

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

French biologists and filmmakers Claude Nuridsany and Marie Pérennou’s “Microcosmos” is a beautifully photographed nature documentary, especially all the shots taken close-up in special high-powered lenses. Its nearly wordless format — believing silence is golden — almost defeats the documentaries main purpose to be informative by failing to identify either the ordinary or exotic flowers and insects that someone who’s not a nature lover (like this film critic) might not know until seeing the final credits. The silence is broken in the English version by about two sentences of narration by Kristin Scott Thomas. This would be a great educational tool in an elementary or secondary school (in my science class I never saw a film strip this good). It’s clearly a superior anthropomorphic documentary for those who want to get a look at Mother Nature like they probably haven’t before.

The action takes place one sunny summer day in the meadow of the French countryside. With much humor we follow such creatures as ladybugs, swallowtail butterflies, caterpillars, pheasants, burgundy snails, bees, Sacred beetles, Argyronet spiders and red ants as they participate in their life activities which include fighting, collecting food, and sex.

The good natured film should give the viewer a buzz. A spicy musical score by Bruno Coulais makes the insects dance to a human beat, which added to its value as entertainment.