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The Living Soil

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Without spoken commentary, this film depicts both the life of the soil and the life within it. The parent rock weathers, and soil is born. It cracks under the Sun, then rain brings it back to life: seeds germinate, and animals burrow and bustle below and above the soil's surface. To complete the chemical cycle, fungi, agents of decay, flourish, themselves to decay in turn. Scavenging insects pick a mouse corpse clean, and a new generation of shoots sprouts among the bones.

Photographic techniques reveal actions that our senses cannot otherwise register. Slow-motion anatomizes the impact of a water drop on sand; time-lapse photography eliminates transient details and emphasizes processes, such as the growth of roots and shoots and the removal of soft tissue from a dead animal. These processes, being slow, fail to catch our attention on a brief nature ramble, but they power the mechanism of the living soil. As the film's introduction states: 'the soil is both the source and the product of the cycle of life and decay'.

For many people, soil is just `dirt'. Yet through a fresh eye - that of the camera - they will see soil as the home of a vital community.

Produced in 1982.

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00:01:35 | Text scrolling up
00:02:03 | Lightening and rock slide of boulders down rocky hillside
00:02:23 | Title over flying dust and debris from disintegrating rock
00:02:33 | Time-lapse - cloud movement and sunrise above hills, snow fallingon large boulder on mountain top, drops of water falling, water eroding,gullies sediment carried under water, water flows over sediment beds
00:03:12 | Sun's rays from under rain cloud, fall across hillside
00:03:16 | Drop of water falls in slow motion, onto sand - scatters sand, soilparticle explodes with water
00:03:34 | Time-lapse - red sunrise above hills
00:03:45 | Time-lapse - shoots emerging from soil
00:04:00 | Sun emerging from cloud, above hills, lens flare rings
00:04:06 | Time-lapse - water drop evaporates, cracks developing in soil asit drys, drop of water falls on sand, water permeates thin soil layer,soil particles swell with water
00:04:42 | Time-lapse - bean germinates, shoot grows with leaves, root penetratessoil, root and root hairs
00:05:18 | Mites emerge from soil, millipede walks, slater and ? seeking food
00:05:43 | Time-lapse - fungus growth
00:05:48 | Red spider scrambling on stack and soil granules, red headed millipedewalking, slug crawling along, millipede crawling along
00:06:16 | Time-lapse - fungus growing
00:06:23 | Worm burrowing into soil
00:06:35 | Time-lapse - shoot growing beside others
00:06:41 | Worm moving soil particles
00:06:49 | Hairy myriapod waves upper body around
00:06:52 | Peripatus slides into crack in soil
00:07:06 | Time-lapse - fern uncoiling
00:07:24 | Ant walking on leaf with water drops
00:07:29 | Water drops on leaf
00:07:32 | Ant cleaning its mandibles, ant trapped on sticky plant, ants movinga dead fly, ant nest activity
00:08:01 | Hopping mouse forages turns to camera, spider, mouse turns away
00:08:06 | Leaf being eaten from far side
00:08:11 | Time-lapse - fungus shrinks, dies, fungus twists and dies
00:08:25 | Red spider running about on dead leaf
00:08:29 | Time-lapse - mould and decay
00:08:35 | Fungus dies
00:08:39 | Myriapod on dead mouse
00:08:43 | Time-lapse - Dermestid beetle larvae devour dead hopping mouse downto skeleton, green shoots emerge and grow
00:09:43 | Larvae crawl on skeleton
00:09:53 | Credits
00:10:08 | End