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Two decades after its release, it's incredibly easy to take "Microcosmos" for granted. In an age where we are graced every few years with a stellar, Sir David Attenborough helmed nature series such as "Planet Earth" or "Life", it's easy to forget that at one time, broadcast TV quality was the best look many of us were getting of the natural world around us. Now, 1080p HD, if not outright 4K Ultra HD gives us as clear a view into the macroscopic and microscopic world as one could get without stepping for in nature. "Microcosmos" though, was that one chance viewers had to see a stunning view of the small-scale world on the big screen itself, provided they were willing to trek to the theaters for its limited initial release. Now, 21-years later, "Microcosmos" makes its debut in 1080p HD giving viewers an all new view of a classic in the nature documentary genre.
Crafted from the minds and efforts of Claude Nuridansy and Marie Perrenou over the course of three years, "Microcosmos" sought no claim to the throne of the narrative nature documentary from any of the titans in the field. It instead relied on exquisite filmmaking techniques on the microscopic scale to bring to life the tiny insect world in a fashion that turned caterpillars into collossusses. "Microcosmos" is an exercise in the revelry of beauty in nature and lets that beauty speak for itself in an essentially dialogue free production. If one is looking for careful explanation of what is being brought to life on the screen and the naturalistic implications, I would point them in the direction of Attenborough's "Life in the Undergrowth." However, for those wanting to spend less than an hour-and-a-half marveling at the intricacies of the planet's smallest scale kingdom in all of its vibrant, breathtaking glory, then "Microcosmos" will serve a vital importance in your life.
While nowhere near as thematically intricate as the Qatsi Trilogy, "Microcosmos" often evokes a similar sense of wonder. I'll never mistake it for the definitive documentary on the insect kingdom nor was it ever intended to be so. It serves as a hallmark of human devotion to exploring the beauty in nature and bringing that beauty to as wide an audience as possible. While "Microcosmos" was critically heralded upon its release, I'd argue it's a film that's never really been seen in its intended format, let alone visual clarity. While I've argued the films merits and importance for years, it's not until this Blu-Ray release, that I'm able to see exactly how stunning a film "Microcosmos" is. Whether "Microcosmos" is an old friend or a new one, there's never been a greater time to (re)connect with this phenomenal film.
The 1.66:1 1080p transfer is a stunning revelation. Although I've never seen the film theatrically, I'd say it's a safe bet this is the best the film has ever looked; erase all memory of low-def TV airings or even the good-for-its-time DVD release, "Microcosmos" on Blu-Ray knocks it out of the park in the visual department. Details is extremely fine and unwavering; there are no compression artifacts to be found; colors are rich and natural as they should be and turn the screen into a near window into the outside world. Contrast levels are natural and consistent throughout, while the original level of grain is natural and doesn't detract from the realism of the viewing experience.
The DTS-HD MA 2.0 English soundtrack is a clear and crisp audio offering that reproduces the finely crafted score as well as sounds of nature itself in a nearly flawless fashion. A French 2.0 DTS-HD MA audio track is offered as well.
Two fantastic bonus features await eager viewers: the first of which is an interview with the original filmmakers, while the latter is a complete making-of feature for the film itself (via multiple interviews). Both run around the 45-minute mark and are a wealth of information on the genesis and execution of the project.
"Microcosmos" is a hallmark in both the nature and (essentially) non-narrative documentary genre. Twenty-one years later and for the first time in an HD release, "Microcosmos" is a visually stunning and captivating glimpse into the insect world. A fine addition to any collection. Highly Recommended.