Genesis (Claude Nuridsany and Marie Pérennou). 80 minutes. Opens Friday (July 8). For venues and times, see Movies, page 93. Rating: N Rating: N
Why do filmmakers impose the voice of God over doc footage when the result is the kiss of death? If a doc is not self-explanatory, admit you are telling a story rather than showing one and switch mediums - fast.
The entire first third of Genesis stars a griot (African storyteller), Sotigui Kouyaté , delivering overly simplistic, philosophical pseudo-insights about how the earth was formed. Cutaways of Mother Earth on fire, lava-covered and water-drenched, mirror his words without adding to them. Finally the real characters of the anthropomorphic doc are introduced - fish, reptiles, birds and insects beautifully captured in macro close-up and time-lapse photography.
Some sequences mesmerize, like a snake devouring an egg, toads mating, an Ostrich chick inside its egg, a human fetus in the womb and seahorses performing an underwater love dance. But these odd moments of nature's well-captured miracles do not add up to a cinematic story.
And what were the filmmakers thinking with didactic commentary like "It takes two to make three" or "Everything that begins must end?" At best, Genesis is an elementary school science flick - if the kids can stay awake.
Biologist filmmaking team Claude Nuridsany and Marie Pérennou were one-hit wonders for their popular bug movie, Microcosmos, released at Cannes in 1996. So they remain with the release of Genesis.