The Creeping Garden
directed by Tim Grabham and Jasper Sharp
Arrow Academy, Cinema iloobia
“Slime” and “Mold” are two words that by themselves are disgusting, and together are even more of a nightmare soup. But these obscure life forms (Plant? Animal? Both? Neither? ) recycle everything from sheep skulls to food waste to agar and without them, the world would pile up with detritus. The film approaches the molds not as Sci-Fi invaders but as an obscure part of our world you may never have noticed. The film effectively uses micro-photographs and time lapse to make some of the most beautiful science animations I’ve seen. But the production team goes farther: they visit a “Bio-music” machine that uses the slime molds to activate a piano; the result is weird, scary music backing everything with a creepy sound track.
There’s scenes of total scientific geekiness, scenes of serious laboratories, scenes of trees decaying time lapse. Slime molds sniff around at food products and consume or ignore them, lines like “Physarium Polycephalum Growth on Agar in Petri Dish (with Oat Flakes)” pass our eyes. The special features go far: one shows how the “Bio-music” sound track was created. After a few minutes of engineering double talk around a grand piano with very arty wires spewing from its guts, we visit a Bio-music concert with an audience dressed in black staring intently a man in front of the piano. Bio-music flows, one giant chord crashes, and they all leave to discuss the meaning of the entire thing. Dig through the extras to see a handy identification guide, visits to museum quality molds, and very approachable explanations make this one of the true great science films circulating today. Slime mold: Sexier than you’d ever imagine.