Friday, 30 July 2010
(Jessica Oreck; USA/ Japan; 2009)
This utterly beguiling documentary effectively examines the Japanese obsession for collecting insects by harnessing voice-over explanations of various philosophies of nature and welding this with shots of the insect-world humming and thriving and related shots of the Japanese cityscape. As the doco progresses, the insect world is reflected in the human world, as car headlights become reminiscent of fireflies at night, or bustling Japanese streets correlate with the activity of ants.
Just to listen to professor Takeshi Yoro speaking on his personal vision of how humanity can learn from insects is worth the entire film alone, as he relates his own life to a humble quest for self-knowledge through the prism of entomology. But the film is memorable for much more than just Dr Yoro's philosophy, with fascinating trawls through shops and markets for insects and insect paraphernalia, excursions into forests with beetle hunters, who make more than an adequate living from selling insects, and moments focusing on children's wide-eyed awe of insects, and the pleasure they derive from keeping them as pets.
Visually the film is exquisite, with many passages evoking memories of experimental film-making a la Brakhage (his Mothlight is particularly redolent).