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Freshwater Assassins (1947)

Assassins d'eau douce (original title)
In a freshwater pond, various aquatic creatures try to eat others in order to avoid being eaten themselves.


Jean Painlevé


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In a freshwater pond, it's "eat or be eaten." A dragonfly larva eats a midge; a water beetle larva eats a damselfly larva. Snail larvae grow. A beetle larva eats one. Up close, we see the eating apparatus of a damselfly larva -- with a retractable hook beneath mandibles. Some creatures bite and chew, others suck. A water beetle larva holds on to its prey, injects a poison that turns the victim's insides to soup, and then sucks it dry. We watch one eat a damselfly larvae and then another water beetle larva. Some have ingenious ways to camouflage themselves, like the water scorpion, and to breathe air while hunting under water. Caddisfly larvae hide in debris, then eat. Written by <jhailey@hotmail.com>

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Plot Keywords:

year 1947 | 1940s | 20th century | See All (3) »


Documentary | Short


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Featured in Ballet aquatique (2011) See more »

User Reviews

But Don't Go Near the Water
4 September 2018 | by bobliptonSee all my reviews

It's eat or be eaten, and sometimes both, accompanied by hot jazz and plenty of frantic drumming in Painlevé's survey of the life in a nice freshwater pond. It turns out it's full of hideous creatures, all hungry all the time and attacking each other in various disgusting ways, sure to send anyone who likes the occasional dip in clean water over to the nearest swimming pool and its nice, safe, dead, chlorinated water.

It's clear evidence of Painlevé's black humor and clear supporting evidence in why your mother -- well mine, anyway -- told me not to go swimming right after eating. Watching a beautiful dragonfly hover above the water, one would never guess how bizarrely its larvae dine, nor imagine that the deadly scorpion has an even more chthonic cousin that lives in the water.

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Release Date:

21 April 2009 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Freshwater Assassins See more »

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Mono (Western Electric Sound System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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