MINUTE BODIES: THE INTIMATE WORLD OF F. PERCY SMITH
Directed by Stuart A. Staples
Musical score by tindersticks with Thomas Belhom and Christine Ott
This meditative, immersive film by tindersticks’ Stuart A. Staples is a tribute to the astonishing work and achievements of naturalist, inventor and pioneering British filmmaker F. Percy Smith (1880-1945).
After its screening in the BFI London Film Festival last October, Minute Bodies: The Intimate World of F. Percy Smith will be released by the BFI on DVD and Blu-ray in a Dual Format Edition on 12 June 2017, with additional special features comprising of eight short films from the Secrets of Nature series, made by both F. Percy Smith and his fellow filmmaker Mary Field.
The film will be screened with a live score performed by tindersticks at the at the Barbican, London, on Saturday 17 June (one of a series of live cine-concert events). The film and soundtrack will be released by City Slang on 9 June on Limited Edition LP and DVD as well as on CD and DVD.
Working in a London studio in the early years of the 20th century, Percy Smith developed the use of time-lapse, animation and micro-photographic techniques to capture nature’s secrets in action.
Minute Bodies: The intimate world of F. Percy Smith is an interpretative work that combines Smith’s original film footage – preserved within the BFI National Archive – with a new contemporary score by tindersticks with Thomas Belhom and Christine Ott. It creates a hypnotic, alien yet familiar dreamscape that connects us to the sense of wonder Smith must have felt as he peered through his own lenses and saw these micro-worlds for the first time.
Director Stuart A. Staples says:
“Radiating from within the classic ‘Secrets of Nature’ educational film series is the pure, breath-taking photography of Frank Percy Smith. Mostly filmed at his north London home using equipment designed and built by himself, his work seems as fresh and bewildering today as when it was first screened.
From a small glimpse of that work, I was compelled to learn more. The more I saw, the more I felt a need to collaborate with this F. Percy Smith. I felt the beauty and adventure in his images to be somehow trapped within their time and format. As I started to cut them loose, the musical forms and connections began to emerge.
My main aim for Minute Bodies is that it invites Smith’s work to breathe and exist in the present. Smith was a major, unique figure. His work transcends the constraints of its time, and now it teaches us about patience, commitment, ingenuity and determination.”
Presented for the first time in High Definition, Minute Bodies utilises footage from several of the Secrets of Nature films alongside a number of other Smith films, which are yet to be seen by contemporary audiences.