Honeyland

I thought about beekeepers a few weeks ago when actor Peter Fonda passed away. In 1997 he did a lovely little movie called Ulee’s Gold and I hadn’t thought about it in years.

With Honeyland getting a strong 98% on Rotten Tomatoes, I figured I should see this documentary on a Turkish beekeeper. I keep forgetting how utterly unreliable Rotten Tomatoes is with their many pretentious critics, many of whom work for tiny websites that aren’t even relevant to anyone but their 10 friends and family members.

There could be something interesting about seeing a glimpse of life in a remote region of the world that you’ll never visit. The opening sequence is interesting, as we watch a woman scale the side of a huge mountain, getting into the cracks and crevasses, to take some honeycomb from a hive. 

We watch as the 55-year-old woman named Hatidze, living in Macedonia, returns to her small house. There she takes care of her 85-year-old mother. The mom is blind in one eye, and has something wrong with the side of her face (perhaps cancer, I’m not sure). It looks like she needs more than just the banana and honey her daughter feeds her. Perhaps a stay at a hospital for a few weeks.

To make money, Hatidze collects honey on that dangerous cliffside, as well as some hives she has near her property. A few times the cinematography is interesting, but that’s about it.

Loud neighbors move in, and from the looks of Hatidze, she isn’t happy about it. Yet she is soon hanging out with the seven children.

Tamara Kotevska and Ljubomir Stefanov co-directed this documentary and spent three years following her (the subjects never acknowledge the filmmakers). I’m so used to documentaries throwing in stuff to make things more dramatic, that I don’t know what to believe about the cattle farmers that have moved in next door. I’m guessing the kids getting kicked around and hurt probably really happened, but some of the other stuff was probably fudged to make things more interesting. One example being how these neighbors horn in on the beekeeping and get rather greedy with it.

The problem for my wife and I was…we weren’t interested. We disliked almost every minute of this; and it was only 85 minutes long. I was thinking I’d rather be stung by bees for 85 minutes straight, then to have to sit through this again. 

0 stars.

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