I am a big fan of the Minuscule series from France, and their second feature, Minuscule 2: Mandibles from Far Away is now one of my favorite animated movies. It was a major challenge to simply find a copy of this film, which was released in France in January 2019. Normally I can find videos like this on eBay. I was lucky to find a Czech version of the DVD for sale on Amazon. Like all visual comedy, it doesn’t matter what nation it comes from. For some reason, this movie is even less known in America than their first feature from 2013, Valley of the Lost Ants. I wrote about that film previously. To introduce the new film, here is the official trailer, though I think the voice over here does an injustice to final product.
If it isn’t obvious, Minuscule is about the lives of insects. They are computer animated bugs, mostly set into live action footage. Like all their work, it is completely dialog free. It is pure visual storytelling and it makes me laugh. It is directed by Thomas Szabo and Hélène Giraud. The below quote from Wikipedia apparently comes from one of their promotional videos.
The creators also cite the Warner Bros. cartoons of the 1950s as a model for the series, aimed at both young and old alike, and the series is often described as “a cross between a Tex Avery cartoon and a National Geographic documentary !”
Minuscule 2 is about a Ladybug father (okay, I’m guessing it’s the father, but feel free to identify with whoever you want) rescuing his child who has been accidentally shipped to the Caribbean island of Guadeloupe. From a bug’s perspective, everything looks big, but for this second film, they expanded the world, with impressive results. This scene makes it believable that a ladybug could catch up to jetliner taking off. It also one of the many demonstrations of determination and love this bug has.
Once on the island, the ladybug dad calls out for assistance through the local ants’ ability to transmit messages extremely long distances. The message reaches his ant friend in Europe. Ant goes to Spider’s house to ask for help. I am impressed with how such a simple idea, going to someone’s house, is built up here. The setting, the music, and the animation all work together to make it both scary, grand, and fun.
In this film, there are nods to Finding Nemo, Up, Pinocchio, and FernGully. In addition to the dolls house, Spider has a toy sailing ship, which he can fly with balloons. Here they are on the perilous journey to Guadeloupe. These are spectacular scenes.
This is a family adventure story with a fair number of perilous situations. They really tried to lighten them up as much as possible. Here, a huge bug-eating spider is played like a puppy dog.
I have a great appreciation for children’s entertainment where the creators really make them to the highest standards. Minuscule is exactly what I like. I really wish these shows and movies were available on a U.S. streaming service, and more people could enjoy them.
Here is a behind the scenes – “making of” video from Dailymotion.
They also have a YouTube Channel with many, if not all, of the productions they made for European television. The shorts are wonderfully funny, and I must recommend spending some time enjoying and learning from them.