Watch slime mold creep, grow and dominate as the protagonist of the aesthetic documentary “The Creeping Garden.” Directed by Tim Grabham and Jasper Sharp, the film entices viewers by stunning visuals, but leaves them searching for a cinematic experience and an actual plot.
The documentary opens up with a panning shot of grass, bringing the viewer into this green world where humans are secondary to nature. The film introduces individuals who have all worked closely with and around slime mold. One thing is for sure: viewers will leave with newfound knowledge of something that is generally unheard of. Certain absurd facts stick to the mind, like a scene in which University of the West of England professor Andrew Adamatzky explains how slime mold has been able to mimic road networks with 70 percent accuracy.
A visual experience is created in this documentary; the beautiful and oftentimes disturbing images of mold leave the viewer curious about what will go on in the next scene and how far they can elaborate on slime mold. Also accompanying the dreamy visuals is the hauntingly unique soundtrack.
However, these visually and auditorily pleasing scenes often lose their significance throughout the film because of the increasingly complex scientific vocabulary. There is a conflict of interest between storytelling and art. It is almost as if the documentary couldn’t decide if it wanted to embrace its cinematic essence or become a purely intellectual and informational documentary.
This documentary does not follow the more traditional, linear documentary styles of problem and solution, which is refreshing at times but also makes certain ideas difficult to understand. The viewer may find themselves entranced with the narrative behind the particular individual of concern, but then may be disappointed when the story too quickly to another topic. Stylistically, the documentary’s storytelling ability falls short.
“The Creeping Garden” may be difficult to follow, but for those interested in the informational and intellectual research behind slime mold, this film would be fascinating, as scientific research takes up more than half of the film’s discussion points. It would have had a more powerful effect if it had focused on fewer people and had given each person enough space to share their studies rather than trying to do too much with a small amount of time.
Email Selin Alexandra Gureralp at [email protected]