This movie is all about bugs. It is a documentary, but probably in the subgenre known as “science film.” In other words, it is a movie that documents the natural world as it is, just so we can get a better look. It records on film the world around, (and in this case, under,) us without trying to make a statement. There is no narrator to explain what is happening on screen. The bugs speak for themselves.
A pure science film would be as accurate a recording of the natural world as possible. This isn’t a pure science film. There is a soundtrack of music and sound effects, and I have read that some of the sound effects are authentic, but one of the first credits at the end of the movie was Foley Artist (the person who recreates footsteps and other incidental noises for the soundtrack) so I doubt that the sound can be trusted to be absolutely accurate. There is also one shot that I don’t believe is authentic: (an over-the-shoulder shot of a flitting dragonfly.) I could be wrong.
The reason to see this movie is because of the unbelievable photography. I don’t how small the camera must be to record such close-up images on film, but it must be tiny. Knowing that, I was expecting the quality of the picture to be somewhat compromised. I was very wrong. The picture quality is amazing. In every droplet of water you can see the detail of the surroundings, reflected and refracted through the drop. You can see the texture of the hairs on the insects. You can see how water behaves differently at such a small scale. You can see how bugs can build air nests underwater and how water skimmers could float on the surface. You can learn how an ant drinks.
The aspect of this movie that bugged (ouch) me most, and the reason I didn’t rate it more highly, is that the final edited structure is supposed to resemble a day in the life of a meadow. But the images don’t need a such a chronological structure. I wonder if a more interesting version of this film could have been made if the editor had abandoned the timeline and gone for more interesting comparisons and contrasts. If documentary maker Frederick Wiseman had edited this movie, he could have found some themes to explore, rather than just slapping sequences together.
Nevertheless, it is an incredible sight to behold.