U.S.A. Popcorn Adventure #8
May 16, 2007
The Butterfly + Butterfly Garden
Collecting is a human instinct: from Beanie Babies and iTunes songs to photographs for the living room walls, we all gather beloved things and keep them near. The Butterfly is an iridescent gem of a French film about Elsa, a nine-year old girl, and her unlikely friendship with Julien, an old man who collects butterflies. Without telling her mother, Elsa sneaks along on Julian's excursion to collect a rare butterfly that only will live for three days. Elsa's motivation has nothing to do with butterflies; rather, she is desperate to get her mother's attention. What begins as an uneasy intergenerational alliance ends with two kindred souls watching a chrysalis blossom into an exquisite butterfly. The kids thought this film was sweet and as adults we loved its message that taking time to cherish life -- whether watching a butterfly emerge or saying "I love you" -- makes every day difficulties take flight.
Watching a butterfly flutter through the backyard is a sure sign that spring has sprung. We thought we'd celebrate the season by treating our kids to some real magic at our local butterfly garden. When we entered the indoor pavilion, home to species from all over the world, our kids flitted among the sunlit paths, chasing after creatures awash in tropical color. After learning from the docents that touching the butterflies removes scales from their wings, the kids stopped trying to catch them and just stood still. To their delight, butterflies landed on their heads and sleeves. On the advice of the friendly docents, we stopped in at a separate exhibit that featured live caterpillars, cocoons, and chrysalides as well as the most spectacular sight of all: the daily release of newly emerged butterflies. As the butterflies took to the air, we felt a surge of joy from witnessing the start of one of nature's most fragile life cycles.
Film Title: The Butterfly
Directed By: Philippe Muyl
2003, Rated U, 80 minutes
Our Buttery Bits of Wisdom about this film:
- Why this Film is Worth It: We love discovering a great little film for family viewing. The cranky relationship between Elsa and Julien is intriguing because it is so real. The old man is annoyed with her; the little girl is confused about life but somehow they know they need each other. The kids love it because they sense the veracity of the characters, and we love it because the story unwinds at a leisurely pace. The final scene, in which the butterfly comes out of the cocoon, is classic.
- Who Should Watch: Fine for kids over eight who can read subtitles. There is not a lot of dialogue, so kids can easily follow along.
- Red Flags: Elsa stows away in the car with Julien, but there's nothing untoward that takes place. Elsa's mother leaves her alone for stretches of time, including overnights. Elsa climbs into a cave in the mountains and has to be rescued near the end of the story. She isn't injured, or really even that scared.
Our tips for talking to your kids about this film:
- Cinema Savvy: Foreign films tend to treat relationships in a more subtle, less sappy manner. Can you think of a studio film that pairs an old man and a little girl or boy, and compare it to the relationship between Julien and Elsa?
- Gourmet Savvy: Ask your kids to guess which type of pasta is named for butterflies. The answer? Farfalle, derived from the Italian name for butterfly, farfalla.