Minute Bodies: The Intimate World of F Percy Smith
Minute Bodies: The Intimate World of F Percy Smith is a 55-minute-long tribute to the life work of the titular figure. Smith, who was born in 1880 and died in 1945, was a British naturalist who pioneered documentary filmmaking with his stunningly intimate movies of fauna and flora, making use of time lapse techniques and so-called micro-photography.
The British Film Institute’s Minute Bodies is essentially a black-and-white montage of Smith’s work, consisting of what he himself had filmed during his lifetime. It is accompanied by music from UK-based alternative rock band Tindersticks, with Christine Ott as guest composer, which is an interesting choice that does feel suitable to the purpose of the film. It encourages a feeling of immersion into the world that Smith so greatly admired. It is not exactly a documentary as there is no specific story being told – although arguably it is the story of life that previously had not been paid attention to in motion – but still manages to be entertaining.
Minute Bodies is a discovery of the alacrity of nature: completely sped up, you see it thrive in its full, wondrous glory. Ardent close-ups present the audience may view this with a gorgeous, harmonious dance of flowers, with two plants whose delicate, wispy stems become seductively entwined. A monstrous bee who wants to claim the nectar for itself also becomes seemingly startled and confused on camera, which is a funny moment to watch. The movie also depicts microorganisms displaying their unusual but interesting behaviour, and it gets more experimental with animated sequences and scenes of ant-covered buttons, garden houses seen through peculiar lenses and amphibians in their various stages of life.
The film concludes with footage showing the naturalist Smith himself, engaged in a manual display of what so enthralled him. F Percy Smith seemed to be a man with a great love for the smaller, unappreciated beauty of nature, and Minute Bodies handsomely conveys this.
Minute Bodies: The Intimate World of F Percy Smith does not have a UK release date yet.
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Watch the trailer for Minute Bodies: The Intimate World of F Percy Smith here: