The Vanishing of the Bees (U)

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The ViewLondon Review

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Review byMatthew Turner07/10/2009

Two out of Five stars
Running time: 97 mins

The issues raised by this eco-doc are both fascinating and undeniably important, but the film is so badly made that it's often difficult to sit through.

What's it all about?
Directed by George Langworthy and Maryann Henein and narrated by Emilia Fox, The Vanishing of the Bees examines the mysterious phenomenon known as Colony Collapse Disorder, in which beehives are being abandoned for seemingly no reason. Its key figure is Pennsylvanian beekeeper David Hackenburg, who was the first to notice the trend in 2005.

The filmmakers interview several scientists and beekeepers (focusing mainly on the US) and eventually posit various theories involving pesticides, monoculture (meaning the focus on one cash crop to the exclusion of others) and the artificial insemination of queen bees. However, the research needed to properly investigate the phenomenon is severely hampered by a lack of government funding and the film highlights the specific failings of the Environmental Protection Agency, who apparently aren't allowed to do independent studies.

The Good
The film offers a fascinating glimpse into the US beekeeping industry, in particular the revelation that hives are actually routinely trucked across the country, so that the bees can pollinate a variety of different crops, from California to the East Coast and back again.

The Bad
This is an incredibly frustrating eco-doc because its message is extremely important and the film makes it abundantly clear that if the problem of CCD isn't addressed soon, the knock-on effect on food production could be devastating. (For example, according to the statistics in the film, 80 per cent of all fruit, veg, seeds, nuts and flowers rely on bees.) However, the film is so badly made that it's often difficult to sit through – for one thing, the storybook structure doesn't really work and the resulting, vaguely patronising narration doesn't do it any favours either.

In addition, the film is poorly edited, with dodgy-looking animated sequences, some shockingly bad sound mixing and some generally amateurish direction. There is undoubtedly an important film to be made about this issue, but sadly, this isn't it.

Worth seeing?
In short, The Vanishing of the Bees is a disappointing film that unfortunately fails to do justice to its vitally important subject.

Film Trailer

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Content updated: 24/10/2017 05:21

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