Thursday, October 12, 2006
The Story of the Bees (1947)
This UW film is probably one of the best documentary studies of bees that we here at ThinkStream Films have seen. It certainly rivals even more contemporary films. The cinematography is simply breathtaking. What makes this film absolutely fascinating, outside of its basic subject, is that it was produced "based on" a film originally produced by Moscow Technical Film Studios in the former USSR. Our best guess is that only the language of the spoken narration and titles were changed from Russian to English. There is, then, an inextricable undercurrent of Communist propaganda that permeates the film's depiction of the socialist bee community in the film's commentary on drones and flagrant glorification of bee culture. The parallels are at once stunning and horrifying.
This amazingly rare and culturally fascinating film is not to be missed – if not for the amazing film work and scientific merits, then for its positioning in American culture as a supreme example of the subtle educational blitz that highlighted the ideological divide between the US and former USSR in the years leading to McCarthyism.
Note: The following clip is taken directly from the original 16mm print and has been edited to under half the film's original length.