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The Mantis Parable DVD Review by Donna Campos

Josh Staub
Jubilee Studios

The Mantis Parable is a DVD that is 8 minutes in length, in full color, with Dolby digital stereo sound. The Special Edition DVD features three Director's Commentary audio tracks and 17 "Making of" Featurettes. It is packaged in a standard DVD case. Created entirely by a single filmmaker as his first-ever short film, The Mantis Parable has won numerous awards all over the world. The story is of a caterpillar trapped in a glass jar. He pleads with a preying mantis that happens upon his circumstance, and the story continues with a turn of events better left to the viewing of the film. There is no speaking in the film, only background music that wonderfully highlights the story line. The website offers a lesson plan appropriate for 5th to 8th grade students. The lesson plan includes a single page of teacher instruction, followed by two pages of questions and activities. The film presents an interesting discussion opportunity for the definition of a parable, character traits, setting, and the moral of the story. With the included informative featurettes, it may provide further exploration for a child who has an interest in animation.

My family loved this film! My preschoolers were instantly captured by the story, and the musical track is wonderful. It is a parable, so there is some thinking that needs to be done--it is about forgiveness, grace, and being willing to help someone who has wronged you. The "Making of the Mantis Parable" portion of the DVD presents some sections to be read and others to be viewed while listening to the creator's explanation. Reading the production comments is informative, but there were a few specialized filmmaking terms we were unfamiliar with, such as "caterpillar rig." You definitely come away with a better understanding of why the making of the movie took eighteen months. A series of "slides" on Texturing provide insight into the many aspects of planning an animated film. Wait until you see how he uses a simple, everyday pear in the story. Getting an idea of the order of steps in animation is enlightening, and the early storyboards may be the most interesting portion of the technical part of the DVD. I must say the price of $15 is a bit high for an 8-minute film, but with creative use and discussion it can be a good teaching tool and is definitely a wonderful way to expand upon biblical parables and character training.

The Mantis Parable has good reason to hold so many screen awards! It is incredibly entertaining and captures the attention of all ages. In its short 8 minutes, we encountered cliffhangers, a moment of shock, a definite disappointment, and an incredible, awe-inspiring experience of grace and forgiveness. If you have a student interested in any level of animation, even outside the realm of filmmaking, this would make an incredible addition to your DVD library. Watching the creator manipulate computer images, comment on various computer programs, and explain the many steps involved in filmmaking is enough to make this an incredible find! Although the technical portion will not turn your child into a filmmaker, it certainly has the potential to reveal a true interest and motivate your child to further research about the field of computer animation. Our family enjoyed this film repeatedly throughout our review of it, and it will continue to be a favorite. Even my preschoolers understood the personal character lessons of the story. Their "ooohs" and "ahs" while viewing sold me! The Mantis Parable, though short, will be an incredibly memorable movie experience for your family.

Product review by Donna Campos, Senior Product Reviewer, The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, LLC, September 2009