Previously at the ICA - Films
19 Jun 2011
This meditative, hypnotic, often very funny, film from Jennifer Oreck, one-time New York Natural History Museum animal keeper turned director, is a true original. A gorgeous visual tone poem exploring Japan’s relationship with the not-so-humble beetle. Routinely sold as house pets from vending machines, department stores and through specialist beetle-dealers, for as much as £50,000. The film quickly becomes more than a documentary on people and their pets, and turns into something far more fascinating. Oreck’s highly developed visual sense uses a Pure Cinema approach with minimal voice-over to delve into the spiritual roots of this unique relationship between a nation and its pet bugs. Taking her cues from Shintoism, Oreck postulates how the Japanese national beetle obsession is a direct result of this densely populated hi-tech nation’s relationship with nature. It suggest through a kaleidoscopic visual narration, that the Japanese veneration of the humble beetle demonstrates a profound need to articulate its respect for the origins of life. Frequently the beetle owners talk of their pets in hushed tones, suggesting that there is something cosmic at the heart of these curious creatures – a universe in miniature. Regardless of whether the viewer buys into this mystical thesis of the beetle as a window to the soul, there is certainly something cosmic, mysterious and moving at play in the heart of Oreck’s beautiful film.
Dir Jessica Oreck, USA, 2009, 91mins, English subs