We received the “Wings of Life” documentary on Saturday, I ordered it from Amazon and had it shipped here by mail, but I couldn’t even begin to think about writing a review of the film until just the other day–so mesmerized by the vivid depiction of the one thing that I prize above all others on this planet. The relationship between plants and pollinators.
People might assume that my favorite animal is the honeybee, given my profound affinity for the creatures. However, it’s just not so. I am also partial to frogs and amphibians, turtles, dragonflies, and eagles, as well as a whole host of other animals. I love all animals. But I also love trees. I’m a notorious tree-hugger. And I talk to plants. I can’t help but tell a tree how beautiful it is to me. How healthy it’s looking. I croon over delicate blossoms, and that plants for their fruits.
What really intrigues me though, is the intimate relationship between plants and pollinators. How nature has evolved such intricate strategies is a mystery that captures my imagination like nothing else. It’s obscene really–watching the process of flower reproduction. A bizarre sort of pornography that leaves me feeling elated and longing for more.
The legendary director and cinematographer Louie Swartzberg has been filming stop-motion film for 35 years, waiting for the moment this film would be released. He has provided stunning imagery for feature films, television shows, documentaries, and commercials.
Swartzberg has received a number of awards for his work, too, including the Clio Award for Best Environmental PSA, as well as an emmy nomination for Best Cinematography for Oceans of Air on the Discovery Channel. The Wings of Life film won Best Theatrical Program at the Jackson Hole Science Media Awards in 2012, and also Best Cinematography Roscar Award.
Currently, Swartzberg is working on “Mysteries of the Unseen World”, a 3D-IMAX film in collaboration with National Geographic.
Louie Swartzberg is a visual artist.
He says his motivation in producing these films is that he is:
trying to encourage people to open their hearts to the beauty of nature, because I believe that beauty is nature’s tool for survival, because you will protect what you fall in love with.
Watching the film I know Swartzberg has succeeded in creating this magnificent work of art that will open people’s eyes to the wonder and beauty of this process that is so pivotal to life on Earth. The whole documentary is vibrant, stunning and breath-taking. Depicting the relationships between a select number of pollinators, including the Orchid bee and the Bucket Orchid, the Monarch butterfly and the Milkweed, Bumblebees and tomatoes. The acrobatics of the Hummingbird are spotlighted, and of course, the Honeybee is profiled, featuring their plight in the almond groves of California.
Each of the featured pollinators are given their due. I love the scene where the screen is filled with cascading Monarch butterflies. And the moonlit white flowers of the Saguaro cacti, which lure in the bats with their long tongues, their faces covered with the powdery dust of pollen grains. And, of course, I adore the scene where the honeybees fill the air.
We have a 47-inch flatscreen tv mounted up on the wall which I like to criticize Keith for buying–really it’s too big for this tiny house we currently live in. But when we watch nature films I appreciate the large high-def screen. Watching Wings of Life on that screen is almost like being there in person before the orchid, watching this metallic bee squirming to get free of the flower’s grip. Having always wanted to go to Mexico to see the congregations of Monarchs at their over-wintering grounds, as well as the Saguaro National Park to witness the pollination of the cacti by bats, this film was almost as good as the real thing–perhaps better, since in the home we get a close-up view of the action.
Wings of Life was released on the 16th of April, just in time for Earth Day 2013. It tells the story of flower reproduction. An event that sustains life on our planet for every living creature, including ourselves since the majority of our food, fruits and vegetables, were once flowers themselves. Many animals feed on the nectar and pollen of flowers, and those animals in turn are food for other animals, higher up the food chain. What would Earth be like without flowers?
Many people might feel underpowered when it comes to the Earth protection movement. So much of what needs to be done it out of our hands, waiting for law-makers to do what is necessary, pass laws and regulations that protect our future. But in regards to pollinators–we can actually do something to help. Planting flowers and tolerating keystone species such as “weeds” and bees that might sting, is all that is required. Don’t use pesticides, and avoid genetically modified seeds. We can make a difference, and who wouldn’t want to help after watching Wings of Life?