Stop right there! If you're browsing "Beetle Queen Conquers Tokyo" because it sounds like a terrific monster movie (and how can you not be enchanted by the title?), you may be surprised by this quietly effective documentary. Director Jessica Oreck serves up an intriguing and artful examination on the Japanese acceptance and fascination with insects. From beetles to dragonflies to crickets, Japanese culture embrace insects as a vital and beautiful part of the natural world. Through captivating visuals, historical vignettes, and even poetry--the film really explores this phenomenon and the symbiotic relationship between all species. It's smart and thoughtful and should easily appeal to nature lovers or people with a cultural interest in Japan. Beyond that, though, there is something quite spiritual in the film's tone.
Some of the more intriguing aspects of the film include how the insect world has developed into big business. People keeping insects as pets is very commonplace. I enjoyed a visit to a warehouse event (like a trade show almost) where hundreds of shoppers come to pick up bugs and bug cultivating supplies. Through brief segments, we see a few purveyors who have gotten rich from the retail aspects of this thriving enterprise. I was also amused by how many insect related video games seemed to be available--especially the one where giant beetles battled for dominance and victory.
It is more than entomology, although that plays a significant role. This is much more contemplative then you might presume. Bugs are beautiful creations--some people even keep crickets to enjoy their music! (Makes me feel guilty for having been mad when an annoying cricket has kept me awake at night with its incessant noise!) There is just such a reverence and respect for the natural world, it's hard not to captivated by the enthusiasm. A truly unique and interesting documentary that showed me many things I was unaware of, check it out for a different perspective on creepy crawlies. KGHarris, 5/11.