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Film Review: In Nature (Dans La Natur)
by Marinell Haegelin

Marcel Barelli, Switzerland 2021

Using nature’s inhabitants as an example director Marcel Barelli, working from a co-written script with Fleur Daugey, brilliantly turn the concept of pairs on its head. “In nature, a couple consists of a male and a female. But not always!” Animals appear onscreen. Sometimes they are in twos, sometimes three, four or more. Sometimes they’re even in herds, and that’s before we deep dive into the ocean. Bottlenose dolphins, Japanese macaques, male black swan couples, or two adoptive moms for a baby elephant seal. Imagine, in nature you can’t be sure males are males and females are females; take the dusky grouper fish, born female and then at 10 years becomes male. Other fish as well! When you get into the bigger species, say bighorn sheep, they can’t change sex and only get together during procreation season, then live apart. Although most males become homosexual, some don’t; instead, they behave like the gal sheep so they can live with them. Hmm. Course people don’t really want to talk about that topic, sometimes not even scientists. “Luckily, not always!” Nevertheless, as the film ends, “One thing’s for sure: Homosexuality exists (Dans la Natur) in nature!”

The boldly colorful mammals, fish, and birds appearing in the 5-minute animation are quirkily illustrated with minimal background detailing. Accompanying them on this fun educational excursion is a sardonically laconic well-informed voiceover. As well, their living situations cannily correlate to how most humans live—impossible not to think of people one knows, besides its capricious enough to not take personally. Fortunately, there are filmmakers making short films about big topics in easy to understand, and amusing ways. And appropriate for any age: “To all animals who are victims of ignorance and homophobia.”