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Tell Us Your Favorite Family Films
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Microcosmos, a French documentary, reveals the teeming life that exists in a peaceful French meadow during a single, late-summer day by using special cameras that get close-up and personal to ladybugs, spiders, caterpillars (and many, many other intriguing insects). Soon after the opening, the camera fixes on an image of a blade of grass reflected in a drop of water, and that bulbous natural mirror provides such an elegant view onto the natural world that we were rooted to our seats for the next 70 minutes. Technology makes this hidden world come alive; close-up cameras to go inside an anthill, time lapse photography captures a bee pollinating a flower, and sound effects as well as musical cues create big-screen drama from a battle between a few beetles, or a ladybug bullied by a torrent of ants. The miracle of a butterfly emerging from a cocoon is filmed with such intimacy that we felt we could feel the sticky cocoon as it was peeled back and discarded. Two snails romance each other to an aria, a spider skillfully captures a grasshopper in her deadly silk, a dandelion opening to full puffery. We loved seeing an odd train of caterpillars march across parched eath, like a freight train stretches across a western sky, and two ants sharing a drop of water as if it were a cocktail. Because the film doesn't have much dialogue, we found ourselves chatting as we watched each mini-drama unfold, marveling at the oddly human behaviors of insects. Just watching raindrops hit a pond during an afternoon storm, sending frogs and dragonflies to seek cover, was enough to insure this film will always have a place in our hearts.
We saw enough caterpillars and butterflies in the film to get excited about witnessing one of the most elegant demonstrations of the life cycle - watching a caterpillar metamorphose into a butterfly. It's possible to hatch a butterfly from a mail-order caterpillar kit, and even cooler if you have a children's museum or nature center near you that sells their own version of the kits. For $5, each child adopted a caterpillar and, each day for a month, our kids watched the larvae in his container, dubious that anything was happening, yet ever hopeful that the magic was taking place. One day when they checked back, the chrysalis had begun to form and then...it was hard to keep from checking the larvae's progress at closely timed intervals throughout the day. To watch the beautiful wings unwrap from their sticky wrapping blew the kids away! Our butterfly was ready to be fly free, so we gathered the family and let her go in the backyard - the thrill of that first, rickety flight was like none other. Much to our delight, the release happens slowly - the butterflies take their time, hopping about our shoulders and noses before taking to the sky.
Our Buttery Bits of Wisdom about this Film:
Our Tips for Talking with your Kids About this Film:
Raise a Caterpillar, Release a Butterfly
Time Allotment: a month's span
Age Recommendation: all ages
Our Buttery Bits of Wisdom about this Adventure: