In his biweekly FILMSTARTS column, Rochus Wolff makes suggestions for the next family movie night, not just from the perspective of a film critic, but especially from his experience as a father of two.
Indiana Jones in the Insect Kingdom
The life of insects is supposedly simple: hatch, buzz, buzz, feed, mate, and that’s it. There is much more to discover! For example, the jealousy of a small beetle for the future offspring of its parents. The turbulent race between ladybugs and blowflies. The exciting journey of a spider in an abandoned pink balloon… There is all this and more in the small but very fine French animated series “Minuscule” with its charming miniatures (more than 70 pieces, which are often used as a cinematic gift for sleep at home): The short films, each only a few minutes long, mix real camera footage of meadows, forests and other places with animated insects. Somehow realistic, these look like a fairy tale, mostly with large eyes and soft features reminiscent of human faces.
For the film version “Die Winzlinge – Operation Zuckerdose”, creators Hélène Giraud and Thomas Szabo now take these elements, gather together some of the best-known protagonists and rush with them into completely unknown realms: because instead of short snapshots, the film offers a continuous story: completely speechless, yet understandable throughout, full of action and movement. It begins with a picnic for a young couple. She is visibly pregnant, then she clutches her stomach and is suddenly in a great hurry. Part of the picnic is left in the meadow, and soon a wide variety of animals are cleaning up whatever they can bring. A group of black forest ants are particularly interested in the metal box full of sugar cubes, but when transporting the box, quite accidentally, they also take a small ladybug with them and then under their wing. However, the predatory fire ants are also interested in the nutritious treasure and will soon do their best to have it all for themselves …
This is followed by a journey first through grass, then to a stream and then to a waterfall, finally to the supposed safety of the ants’ den. “Die Winzlinge” changes genre from scene to scene: the rather contemplative natural occurrence in the meadow turns into an Indiana Jones-style water chase, and when fire ants appear in front of the ant burrows of their black rivals , Becomes a. Scenography that is situated between a traditional war movie and a battle in the style of “The Lord of the Rings”. All kinds of civilization garbage is launched like projectiles in the direction of the ants’ den, which sometimes seems a bit threatening.
And even if the wild nature itself is not known for its moral sensitivity: in truth, of course, it does not know such a division into good (black ants) and evil (red ants). In “Die Winzlinge” the actors are also clearly classified ethically. What the film loses in lightness compared to the series, it easily makes up for in more tension: an insect-level action drama, with plenty of antics, visual jokes, and goofy situations. However, the most enchanting of the “tiny” remains the unique combination of photos of real nature and computer-generated insects, which merge into a very special magical world.
Rochus wolffBorn in 1973, he is a freelance journalist and lives with his wife and two primary school children in Berlin. Its main focus is children’s and youth films; since January 2013 he has been in the company he founded Children’s film blog looking for the beautiful, good and true children’s cinema.