Screened as part of NZIFF 2017

Minute Bodies: The Intimate World of F. Percy Smith 2016

Directed by Stuart A. Staples Framing Reality

“From acrobatic flies to suckling bees, Smith’s stop-motion nature films astonished viewers a century ago. Now Tindersticks’ Stuart Staples has set them to music in a dark and dreamy movie.” — Patrick Barkham, The Guardian

UK In English
54 minutes B&W / DCP


Stuart A. Staples
David Reeve


F. Percy Smith


David Reeve
Stuart A. Staples


Thomas Belhom
Christine Ott


London 2016; Rotterdam 2017


Minute Bodies, directed by Stuart Staples of the Tindersticks, is a tribute to the pioneering science films of F Percy Smith, setting images from Smith’s work to a sympathetic musical score to create a new and hypnotical silent movie. Smith’s movies, all shot at his home in north London (the opening card calls him a ‘dabbler’), captured plants and animals, but used magnification, timelapse photography and a little inventive showmanship to reveal their essential processes: photosynthesis, pollination, reproduction, growth, decay...

Sprouting seeds bud delicately furred roots in the darkness of the soil; a flower with quivering petals opens to reveal its veined heart; the globular tips of slime fungus glisten in the gloom, with pin-point reflections on their sleek surfaces creating alien eyes. Elsewhere vines wind around nearby branches, a tadpole bursts from its jelly shell and cells divide and multiply, pulsing in unison like an infinite chorus line. The score, by the Tindersticks with guest composer Christine Ott, emphasises the musicality of these movements...

Rather than cleaving to Smith’s pedagogical intentions, this film reinvents its source material, emphasising the beauty of his work and its experimental allure. Minute Bodies, with its insistent sexual rhythm, is about the urgency of life on a cellular scale. While it may not help anyone pass their science exams, it is ideally scaled to seep under the audience’s skins and into their veins.” — Pamela Hutchison, Sight & Sound