Did you know that there are people who have devoted themselves to tracking down, preserving, and growing the rarest, most exotic fruit trees? This documentary drops in on the scene of an underground world I never knew existed.
Documentaries are one of my favorite things to watch, and I found an intriguing one the other night on Netflix. I wasn’t expecting to like it as much as I did, but I was fascinated by this film from start to finish. It’s bright, it’s intoxicating, and it’s a lot of really useful information and insight into what we eat and why we eat it. It’s also an eye-opener into a unique pastime. I love anything to do with embracing the fresh, natural and growing world, and so I thoroughly enjoyed this film.
It is evidently based on a book by the same name, which differs in many respects from the film, focusing a great deal more on the history of fruit and on facts pertaining to the different varieties. The book also goes more in depth into the worldwide fruit market and its processes–such as growing, harvesting, radiating, gassing, painting, waxing, transporting, and preventing spoil.
Like the film, there is also a great deal of innuendo sprinkled throughout, using sexual connotations to describe the luscious world of fruit. According to one reader, “If books had ratings, this book would have to receive an R rating.”
Apart from its “juicy” delivery, it is by most accounts an in-depth and informative thesis on everything fruit. I will have to look it up the next time I am at the book store.
Though a thoroughly different species, the film doesn’t seem to have fallen too far from the tree in its unifying themes. The preservation of biodiversity and appreciation for the miracle of fruits tie together a wide selection of real life characters over 95 minutes.
The film is a mouthwatering event, bursting with the many forms, colors, flavors, and scents from around the globe, emphasizing fruit’s literal and symbolic sensuality and the great abundance of nature that ripe fruit embodies.
The camera follows different people who are using their passion for fruit to save the trees that they love. Many have planted large orchards, and travel some very interesting corners of the world, tracking down lost varieties. Some are scientists actively seeking solutions to fruit conservation.
One keynote is the demise of the Cavendish banana, the variety we all buy in our local grocery store and take very much for granted. I had previously heard the rumors that the most popular banana in the world might cease to exist one day, and it was very interesting to hear more about it and get a glimpse into the solutions being pursued.
We are also treated to a smattering of interesting historical tales in which fruit played some major role. The film as a whole is a great mix of natural science, human interest, and deliciousness.
…Some of my favorite parts
- Those sexual innuendos I mentioned earlier? My sister and I had quite a few laughs at those. There’s something hilarious about watching a documentary narrator wax sensuous, trying to make fruit dirty. Nevertheless, I give the author and script-writer fair credit for cleverness. To be fair, it’s not that far-fetched; allusions between sex and fruit are an old trick.
- Of all people, Bill Pullman is a prominent figure in this film. He has a wonderful orchard at his Hollywood home, and we find him in gardening gloves, tending his trees and adding to his “collection” of rare fruits. Part of the film details how he and his neighbors are on a quest to start a community orchard. Right on!
- There is a woman who pores over art masterpieces trying to identify the forgotten varieties of fruits that feature in old paintings from centuries past. At one point, she visits a monastery trying to track down a particular kind of fig. What an interesting thing to do! I just never thought of actually questioning what those funny looking pears were in this or that painting–but I suppose they must have been something. It is funny to think that a common fruit centuries ago is now unheard of to us.
Watch it. You will likely find that the film really gives you a taste for what these “fruit hunters” are chasing after and a reverence for the plentifulness of the earth that these trees and their sweet offerings represent. The philosophy–to nurture that which feeds nature–is good.