You won’t have a snail on your plate again after watching Claude Nuridsany and Marie Perennou’s intensely beautiful paean to creepy crawlies. Biologists by training, artists by nature, they spent three years rehearsing their cast to perform before the cameras. Unlike Disney’s true life documentaries that emphasise the violent and absurd aspects of the natural world, this film is insect friendly, showing off its subjects in the best possible light. With the exception of a spider mummifying live crickets, there is nothing nastier than the bomb blasts of torrential rain and a drosera plant lunching off a bug.

The cinematography is so exquisite that even a wasp is seen as a thing of wonder. Burgundy snails embracing in foreplay and the birth of a swallow-tail butterfly catches your breath, while everything antish is deeply impressive. Not so much, perhaps, as the scarab beetle rolling a dung ball backwards along a rocky road. Such tenacity would exhaust a workaholic. The argyronet spider lives underwater. What it does is build an oxygen tent for its prey by scooping bubbles from the surface to create a bell cage of air.

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The directors are not attempting to dazzle with amazing feats. They stay within the perimeter of a meadow in Aveyron, covering one day in summer. The ordinary becomes exquisite and the extraordinary alien. Twenty-four hours is a long time in the life of an insect. They are not slackers and their crawly creepiness is grossly exaggerated.

Reviewed on: 11 Apr 2008
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What creeps and crawls in a French meadow.
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Director: Claude Nuridsany, Marie Pérennou

Writer: Claude Nuridsany, Marie Pérennou

Year: 1996

Runtime: 72 minutes

BBFC: U - Universal

Country: France/Switzerland/Italy

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