"Life depends on little things we take for granted." This opening title sets the stage for another of those jewels of natural filmmaking in the Disneynature series -- a series that deserves all the attention of tentpole blockbusters but are released quietly on Blu-ray/DVD and perhaps in a few theaters.
The latest is called Wings of Life, a title that barely encompasses the depth of what you experience in this brilliant film, shot in razor-sharp clarity, even when capturing microscopic miracles.
The title implies birds, but the story is about insects and flowers. Narrator Meryl Streep's words are those of the plants, trees and flowers, explaining in first person how they all interact with each other.
"One might imagine that the most important life forms are large or flashy or smart," narrates Streep, "But it is love among the little things that runs the vast machinery of life." How true this is. (read my review of Lincoln for this same concept on a human level, as applied to the muckety-mucks and the folks in the trenches).
From bees to bats, hummingbirds to beetles (Paul is the cute one), the creatures are part of a spectacular spectrum of survival, balance and innate skill.
To me, the stars of the film are butterflies. There is one sequence in which what appears to be milliions of butterflies burst from trees and settle in the grasses. It must be seen to be believed.
None of this is done with CG or special effects, yet it is every bit as astonishing as a megablockbuster movie -- albeit with a soothing, ethereal tone, due in no small part to Streep, whose superb narration comes as no surprise to those of us who love her recording of The Velveteen Rabbit with pianist/composer George Winston.
No extras to speak of, unfortunately, since seeing how this was filmed would be fascinating. No matter, the color and majesty makes Wings of Life like a naturalistic Fantasia.