I’m wondering if anyone reading this blog has seen a movie called The Wonders. It’s a beekeeping movie. Sort of. From what I’ve read about the film (and seen in the trailers) it appears to be an Italian Ulee’s Gold with English subtitles. Do you remember Ulee’s Gold? It was the story of a Florida beekeeper with a messed up family. Artistically, it was brilliant. Apiculturally, it was also brilliant – and that doesn’t happen often in the theatre when bees are involved. Ulee’s was a major movie with the star (Peter Fonda) receiving the Oscar’s best actor nomination in 1997. It’s still one of my favourite films. Here’s a link to Ulee’s trailer – if you like it, you’ll find the movie in some libraries, maybe even on YouTube, here. If you like slow-paced drama with lots of bees, Ulee’s Gold is your movie.
I don’t know if The Wonders is as good as Ulee’s Gold. From the little that I’ve seen, it’s more artsy. On the other hand, the Daily Herald calls it a post-realism film that borders on documentary: “this hyper-realistic drama could pass for a documentary on the lives of a family of Italian beekeepers in rural Tuscany.” Then the reviewer tells us that the movie records the “unhurried, unexciting daily routines” of beekeeping which suggests that this might not be a bee movie after all. However, it does have bees, so that could make up for almost any flaws.
The movie is about an impoverished family of beekeepers (why are beekeeping families poor in the movies, but so rich off stage?). They are husband/beekeeper, wife/sometimes-mom, and five daughters. Gelsomina, the 13-year-old, is beginning to feel independent and manipulates the family into being featured on an Italian reality TV show that comes to the region in search of a ‘typical family with traditional values’. Meanwhile, the father’s business is almost ruined by new government rules on honey house cleanliness, so he takes in a 14-year-old juvenile delinquent to help with the work and because the government will pay papa to foster the wayward boy. If all this sounds complicated, it is. But the movie unfolds slowly over two hours, so you have plenty of time to check your notes if you get confused.
The Wonders (Le meraviglie) has won 14 significant prizes, including Munich Film Festival’s Best Film by an Emerging Director, the Abu Dhabi Film Festival’s Black Pearl Award, and Cannes’ Grand Prize of the Jury. At Cannes’ the film ended with 12 minutes of audience applause! The movie is apparently very good. It opened in November, 2105, at select theatres, but like so many great films, it appears to have missed a screening in my hometown, Calgary. This again reminds me of Ulee’s Gold which was shown in an artsy show hall downtown here instead of the massive box-theatres where one could find much livelier and stupider entertainment. Which brings me back to my original question: Have any of the readers of this blog seen this movie? Or have any ideas of where to watch it?
Update: August 3, 2016
Well, I watched the movie. For a beekeeper, there were at least a dozen distracting fundamental errors (including the extractor which looms large in the plot and runs non-stop for hours and hours dribbling into pails – maybe it symbolizes the existential angst of unachievable satisfaction.) More importantly, the movie was too dark and depressing for me. I know, I know. It was supposed to be moody and bleak. But really? I was surprised when it ended. Is that it? Is that all we get? Really? Is the entire movie simply a metaphor for the existential angst of unachievable satisfaction? Or what?