"Bee Movie", the animated effort from Jerry Seinfeld that had him starring as an animated bee had the cheery plot point of the bees giving up making honey because they were feeling exploited by the humans. As a result, the flowers didn't get pollinated and it's bad news for humans. While "Bee Movie" eventually wrapped itself up with a happy ending, the real-life "Bee Movie" isn't looking quite so cheery. In reality, bees have been suffering from what has been deemed "colony collapse disorder", a mysterious issue that's not yet entirely understood, although there have been a number of theories presented as to why this has been happening. As a result, crops have suffered and plans have begun to be made, such as construction of "bee roads" (plantings of bee-friendly flower patches) in Europe.
"The Colony", whose subtle is "The Endangered World of Bees" is a fascinating and remarkably beautiful documentary on the situation currently going on in the bee community, as well as the importance of bees to human kind and the world at large. The latter is clear when speaking to a couple of beekeepers early in the film, who discuss the role of the bee on their farm, and mention that a third of their fruits and veggies are pollinated by the bees on the farm. In an enjoyable comparison, the beekeepers discuss the various roles for everyone on the farm as they are discussing the roles of the various bees within the collective.
"Colony" works on a number of levels. It not only provides a terrific look into the current situation regarding the bee population, but also provides a first-rate view into the life of beekeepers, giving the viewer a greater appreciation of the importance (how they are part of what it takes to get food out) and hard work involved in the task. Bees are shipped and trucked this way and that, heading across the globe in order to carry out the task of pollination - almond pollination being the biggest task, using 1.3-1.4M hives, according to one keeper in the film.
The money isn't in the honey, we're told - it's in the pollination. If the bee colonies continue to collapse - and the problems so far have not involved just a tiny amount, but a massive group of the insects - it will cause a serious problem with the world's food supply. Throughout the film, we see keepers who suddenly find hundreds of hives just emptied. Beekeepers - whose task isn't easy to begin with - only find themselves facing deeper and deeper struggles as business slows and some hives begin to run into trouble.
What really helps elevate this film and take it to another level is the presentation of the film, which is wonderful - the film's cinematography is a delight, capturing both the insects and the individuals in an elegant, beautiful manner. Rarely does a documentary boast this level of visual grace and detail - the film's images are on the level of a feature film. The film is also assisted by terrific editing and a wonderful, often powerful score.
"The Colony" is a haunting look at a dire problem that is facing bees and how that problem could have profound effects on the rest of the world. Immensely educational (and often visually stunning) without being dry or dull, the picture is one of the best documentaries features I've seen in quite some time.
VIDEO: "The Colony" is presented in 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen. The film is gorgeous, and is presented superbly by this delightful transfer. Sharpness and detail are solid, as the picture looked consistently clean and detailed, with the small details of the insects able to be seen crisply and clearly. No pixelation, edge enhancement or print flaws were spotted. Colors remained spot-on, appearing pure and natural, with excellent saturation and no smearing.
SOUND: The stereo soundtrack provides both the slight ambience (bee noises) and dialogue clearly.
EXTRAS: Unfortunately, little: a couple of filmmaker bios and trailers for other titles from the studio.
Final Thoughts: The Colony" is a haunting look at a dire problem that is facing bees and how that problem could have profound effects on the rest of the world. Immensely educational (and often visually stunning) without being dry or dull, the picture is one of the best documentaries features I've seen in quite some time. The DVD presentation boasts very good audio/video quality, but next-to-no supplements. Highly recommended for nature doc fans.