Phase IV and the 101st monkey
Phase IV, originally from 1973, is available to view streamed on lovefilm.com - it's one of the free ones, you don't even have to register for the site. I had never heard of the film until yesterday but then someone talked about when we were sitting around. I was electrified, galvanised when I heard what it was about, ranted excitedly at everyone, went to watch it right away.
In the Arizona desert, scientists discover ants behaving in ways that ants just don't. Different species co-operating and communicating, building strange structures in the desert, setting out to drive first species that are ant predators and then humans out of their area, declaring war on humankind. Not "It Came from the Desert" giant ants, just normal little ants that have a new agenda.
It was uncanny - you may remember even from this blog - this has been a theme I have been playing with for years. I am obsessed with the thought that, while I believe we will reach the stars from this planet one day, it may not be us, but the evolutionary descendants of the ants who cross the interstellar void... Once when I began to write it as a script, I began with "Scientists discover an ant colony in the Arizona desert somewhere that seems to have begun developing technology...", down to that detail about Arizona.
You know the 100th monkey phenomenon, of course? After the 100 monkeys have reached their critical mass and suddenly monkey minds everywhere flash with new knowledge, and you're one of the monkeys left thinking: "Ahhhh - that seems so obvious now! Why didn't I catch on in the beginning like those other monkeys?"
I feel like the 101st monkey... So. Somebody already had the idea. And somebody else just changed the name of their band to 101st Monkey, try looking it up on Myspace or something.
It is a very interesting film. It used the then-new technique of ultra-close up photography of ants, and real ants star collectively (unwillingly or unwittingly) as a major character of the film. It is not a B movie; more thoughtful than that. It has beautiful cinematography and some clever lines. And some stupid ones. It is different from my vision, where ants evolve high technology spontaneously (in the film, it ends up being some sort of alien radiation that speeds up evolution - which gets the humans too... hence Phase IV of evolution on this planet).
There's a nod to Un Chien Andalou, with ants crawling out from a hole in the palm of one of their dead human victims.
I am in touch with Hollywood people about doing the script for the remake.