Director: Mark Verkerk | Script: Koos de Wilt and Ignas van Schaick | Time to play: 82 minutes | Year: 2023
Humans are rapidly mapping their wider environment. The earth and the sky keep fewer and fewer secrets. The deepest depths of our seas and oceans are becoming ever clearer. Outside of Earth, the most advanced telescopes take sharp images of other galaxies and planets. We know more and more, but one area we know very little about is what is right under our feet.
There is a whole universe of complex life there, which may well be the answer to many problems that our humanity and our planet struggle with. A complex web of microscopic organisms, insects, worms, fungi, and spores has created a biosphere of its own. It’s all interrelated, but we’re only just beginning to figure out exactly how it works.
The captivating nature documentary below ground levelfrom the same production team as the new desert in the wild city it’s almost intrusively educational, were it not for the fact that it’s also a fascinating eye-opener. However, the somewhat preachy message that Principal Mark Verkerk proclaims is invaluable, because it’s not just for his own parish. By realizing what goes on underground, we could devise new and more nature-friendly forms of agriculture.
In short, it is. The ubiquitous nitrogen problem is only sparingly mentioned and the fact that organic farming and horticulture is unsuited for today’s mass production, let alone the immense contemporary export, is not mentioned. We must start small, or so Verkerk and the passionate nature enthusiasts he portrays must have thought. Idealism splashes, but whether it is realistic remains to be seen.
The fact that Verkerk is able to evoke a high degree of enthusiasm is due to its sharp images, which are close to the smallest level. It’s easy to forgive him for all sorts of contrivance being used, like a cross section of an orchard or a compost heap that was actually in a lab-turned-studio. All because of the message, which is tremendously powerful and also hopeful.
Expert Marc van Will’s comment is frugal and modest. Conversations between scientists, researchers and hobby growers happen regularly. Verkerk regularly jumps from one topic to another. There is so much to tell that he hardly knows where to start.
Verkerk has you with the first text that appears on the screen. There is more life on a teaspoon of earth than there are mouths to feed on this planet. Extremely inspiring is the idea that after thousands of years of feeding plants for optimum harvest, the emphasis must shift to feeding the soil in which they grow. It’s nice how a new perspective puts everything in a different light.