Microcosmos (1996)

A SDG Original source: National Catholic Register

To human sensibilities, insects are very far from the most appealing forms of life on the planet — yet the sheer fact that God has made so very many of them can hardly fail to impress upon us that he must think more of them than we are inclined to.

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1996, Miramax. Directed by Claude Nuridsany and Marie Pérennou. Briefly narrated by Kristin Scott Thomas.

Artistic/Entertainment Value

Moral/Spiritual Value


Age Appropriateness

Kids & Up

MPAA Rating


Caveat Spectator

Some documentary footage of invertebrate carnage and mating.

What Winged Migration did for birds and Atlantis did for life under the sea, Microcosmos does for the insect world. It’s an astonishingly up-close and personal look at an infinitesimal world as alien as anything captured by the Hubble telescope or the Mars rovers — but also a world of strange fascination and unexpected beauty.

These three documentaries bring us closer to their subjects than any other nature film I’ve ever seen. For Microcosmos, specially built cameras with powerful magnifying lenses were built to capture insects as vividly and powerfully as players in a football game or cars in a car commercial. Stag beetles lock horns as fearsomely as rams, raindrops land among insects like hailstones, snails mate with almost human-like tenderness, and a pheasant picking off ants looms like the T-rex in Jurassic Park.

My favorite discovery involved a sequence with an ant driving off a ladybug and knocking it off a branch in order to defend its aphids. I knew that ants farm aphids and drink a milky liquid secreted by the mite-sized insects, and I knew that ladybugs eat aphids, and for that reason are appreciated by gardeners, since aphids eat leaves. But I had no idea that an ant, confronted with a ladybug threatening its aphid farm, would fight and drive off the intruder much like a farmer driving a wolf away from his herd. It’s a startling sight.

Like Winged Migration and Atlantis, Microcosmos is about showing, not telling; the images are so arresting that no running commentary is needed, just as a symphony needs no lyrics.

Documentary, Foreign Language, Nature Documentaries


RE: Microcosmos

You once talked on the radio about a bug/insect life movie that showed ants/spiders, etc. up really close … I have a nephew that loves insects. What was this movie’s title? Thanks.

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