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film review

Metamorphosis.Velcrow Ripper/NFB/Hot Docs

  • Metamorphosis
  • Directed by Nova Ami and Velcrow Ripper
  • 85 minutes

Rating:

3.5 out of 4 stars

Billed as a “poem for a planet,” the Canadian-made documentary Metamorphosis uses the monarch butterfly as a metaphor and microcosm for the perils of climate change and the fragility and resiliency of nature. The film is graceful visually and beautifully harrowing; its worry for a planet and hope for humanity is reasoned and well-explained.

A stunning drive up a California mountain in flames is almost immersive enough that it will cause you to leave the movie theatre smelling like a wood fire. (That is, if you actually see the film in a proper theatre, which you should, where possible.) What separates Metamorphosis from the likes of eco-scare classics An Inconvenient Truth and This Changes Everything is its poetic tone and its explanation for the psychology of climate-change denials.

Filmmakers Nova Ami and Velcrow Ripper suggest change reminds of us our own mortality, and that we suppress our fear with “psychic numbness.” Some of the solutions are small-scale but encouraging: In Milan, urban towers are vertical forests, while in Arizona, swimming pools are fascinatingly transformed into self-sustaining gardens. The film’s rhythm is a touch repetitive, but its message of loss, grief and required evolution is well-delivered – even inspiring.

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