Producer Michael Schwarz says the main characters in this film don't move and they don't talk. "As main characters, that makes it tough," he says about producing "The Botany of Desire," featuring Author Michael Pollan and based on his best-selling book.
Airing on KUED-Channel 7 Wednesday, October 28, at 7 p.m., the special takes viewers on an eye-opening exploration of the human relationship with the plant world -- seen from the plants' points of view. Narrated by Frances McDormand, the program shows how four familiar species -- the apple, the tulip, marijuana (Cannabis) and the potato -- evolved to satisfy our yearnings for sweetness, beauty, intoxication and control.
Schwarz said the whole notion of looking at the world from a plant's point of view was something that nobody had really done before. "It's very provocative and intriguing, and the stories of the plants themselves were so surprising. The most interesting thing about the book is the chance it gives you to get inside Michael's head as he's thinking about these plants, and musing about them, and it is the philosophical nature of the book that's interesting."
The talented cinematographers brought a lot of the look to the film, according to Schwarz. "The interesting thing about cameras is that they can see things that we don't. And one of the things we really tried hard to do was to see the plants in a way you don't ordinarily see them when you look at them in nautre. So we wanted to take them out of their natural environment some, but we also tried to look at them very close up. We used a lot of macro photography in some cases. You saw a lot of that with the marijuana plant, in particular, where you just don't see the resin," Schwarz explains.
After watching the film, one of the messages viewers will take away with them is that there is a connection between what consumers demand and what farmers grow. Crops often grown by farmers are those that they can sell in the market.
So how did the author end up highlighting the four plants that he featured in his book and that are now in the film? "As I started writing," Pollan said, "I really enjoyed the form that was evolving, which was to take these four and to go deeper rather than wider and to explore these plants from so many different perspectives: natural history, psychology and brain science, philosophy, poetry. The other thing I wanted to do was make sure that each plant corresponded to an important human desire, which is something that I think is really underscored well in the film." Pollan concluded by saying that this month, in fact, he published an article on orchids, where he finally got to explore them. "And there are plenty of factoids there about the bizarre sexual practices of orchids that are far too perverse for public television."
The Botany of Desire
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