Hidden Flick: Air

[Originally Published: August 9, 2011]

Taking into account everything known about our planet, one would be hard-pressed to really sit down and try to explain it all, let alone understand what it has been through, and where it is going. Suffice to say, humans may not be a part of that Great Master Plan, after all, but one is optimistically hoping that there has been a purpose, a reason, a goal in mind. Otherwise, why get up in the morning? Why do anything at all? Why evolve?

Indeed. As we head into our descent towards the end of Season 5, we ponder a film that has been recently released about just those very concepts—flight, progress, abandonment. All hope is not gone, but the better phrase (or question, in this case) may be: is the idea of “hope” something created by humans to take flight through the bleakness of existence?

And I write all of that not out of any sense of pending doom—hey, like an automobile, once off the lot, the depreciation really starts to kick in—but out of a sense that what is happening around the planet Earth is NOT a part of some master plan. Instead, it is the Great Inevitable, as one will see in this week’s Hidden Flick, Vanishing of the Bees.

Directed by George Langworthy and Maryam Henein, and narrated by the actress Ellen Page, this sobering documentary explores the recent disappearance of honeybees from their hives. This phenomenon, which originally came to public attention in France in the mid-90s, hit America several years later, and is now a worldwide issue. I hesitate to use the word “problem,” because even that word, with its heavy and perplexing connotations, does not do justice to the hive departures, does not in any way describe its true essence.

It isn’t just that bees are vanishing. It isn’t even that beekeepers throughout the world are losing their source of revenue. What the film accurately hits upon is that one-third of our food consumption is impacted by the mysterious end, in many cases, of the hive. What is even more troubling is that there are no traces of dead bees. They just left, abandoning their hives; the queen and their children that remain cannot function without these bees.

That sense of abandonment, so prevalent in American culture in our post-9/11 society, gets more clarity, more definition when the film describes the Colony Collapse Disorder concept. Like the Mayans, the bees appear to be vanishing without a trace, never to return, and when that departure is solidified, and the honeybee is completely absent from our world and its sensitive ecosystem, well, then…all hope WILL be gone.

- Randy Ray

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