MIFF 2010 Review: Beetle Queen Conquers Tokyo

26 Jul

The name of this film, and the content it promised to explore, made me very excited for the my first film of the festival- but it never really delivered.

Japan’s love affair with the humble insect is presented in the context of the people who presently live on Dragonfly Island (a name by which Japan was once known) and the ancient, mystical past of the people who created their culture. Shinto, Zen and Haiku are all discussed in reference bugs, prompting a ponderous perspective in the viewer on the influence of beetles, butterflies and bees.

So whilst it is all very fascinating to delve inside the world of a Ferrari-driving beetle-catcher and to see a little boy barter with a store owner over the price of a heavily-armoured King-Beetle, the exploration just never seemed to stop. The constant reminder that humans, like insects, exist in an ephemeral world became boring and constant segways of dancing lights in the Japanese landscape and fast-moving trains going from one place to another also became tiresome and repetitive. The shakey camera work induced motion sickness in the lass next to me, and I became frustrated with the lack of information about insects given that left me wanting David Attenborough to push the screen aside and take control.
How I wished it could have been more fun!
Campbell Watson

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