In close-ups and extreme close-ups, we watch two small species of marine crustaceans, the slender long-legged stenorhynchus and the clumsy, short-legged hyas. To blend in, both cover ...
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Examines the sea horse, the only fish that swims upright. We watch it use its prehensile tail to wrap around plants and other sea horses. A frontal bulge houses organs including an air ... See full summary »
Titles in French and English help us know what we're seeing. In all waters, daphnia abound. They are crustaceans about 2 ml long, with one eye that turns in all directions. Antennae enable ... See full summary »
At a marine biology station, a clump of algae reveals polyps, stomachs with limbs, limbs with buds, buds with poison cells. This animal reproduces by buds, which we watch close up in ... See full summary »
A close-up look at sand urchins and rock urchins. At the seashore, a man digs up a sand urchin. We look closely. He sets it back in the sand, and it burrows out of sight. Its intestines ... See full summary »
A complex creature. Regular underwater photography, magnified close-ups, and film through a microscope present sea urchins. We see their mouth and five teeth close and open. After injecting... See full summary »
We begin on planet Earth, with a demonstration of measuring distances using triangulation. Then, an imaginary voyage begins from earth to the moon, on to Mars, Saturn, the closest star (... See full summary »
An enthusiastic grandfather sits with children in a Parisian park talking about pigeons. First. their physical appearance - eye, wings and tail, and color - and their varieties. Then, he ... See full summary »
After a comic introduction, we look closely at a shrimp. Eyes on stilts, color patterns, pinchered walking feet, a rostrum. We watch shrimp eat using a strong claw and a fine one; we watch ... See full summary »
An octopus slithers into a narrow crack near the shore; we see its eye up close; blowing water propels it through water. It feeds on a crab. In spring it's time to mate. A male grabs a ... See full summary »
The film begins with methodical descriptions of one-dimensional, two-dimensional, and three-dimensional space. It then looks at a two-dimensional world inhabited by flat mice. It imagines ... See full summary »
In close-ups and extreme close-ups, we watch two small species of marine crustaceans, the slender long-legged stenorhynchus and the clumsy, short-legged hyas. To blend in, both cover themselves with found objects, such as algae and sponges. We watch them move, eat, greet each other, and fight. They have small mandibles and large claws. Near them are spirograph worms, 6 inches long, with a plume of branchiae that fan out like exploding fireworks. We see vibrating cilia, 0.001 mm long, on the branchiae, sending food toward the mouth at the plume's center. Chopin's music and an off-screen narrator suggest we're watching a ballet.Written by
This clearly was a goat-glanded production; Criterion gives its original date as 1927, while the IMDb gives it as 1929. The copy I saw had a score of Chopin music, title cards and a voice-over commentary. Clearly it was issued in some form as a silent and then, equipped with a sound track, re-issued by Gaumont a couple of years later.
The two types of crustaceans are small critters of two related genuses that resemble small crabs. Individual species are sometimes called crabs. They have the peculiarity of using bibs and bobs from their localities to adorn themselves for camouflage, resulting in what might appear to be a walking mass of seaweed.
Painlevé uses only about seven of the ten minutes of this short subject on these animals. The rest is devoted to the spirograph worm, a sessile creture that puts out fronds to breathe and gather in food in what the narrator calls "a Loie Fuller ballet". It is here that Painlevé uses his most extreme microphotography; ten micrometers take up the entire screen.
Like the director's other science films of the era, it uses marvelous camerawork to produce amazing results. We could do better today, but that's only after ninety years of technological advances.
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