Documentary Review: Fantastic Fungi

The only podcast I’m listening to these days is Tim Ferris Show. I usually put it on while running, it has a decent balance of information and humor without being too demanding in terms of attention. In the last episode, Tim talked to a lady expert in “mycology” (I didn’t even know such a thing exist, it’s basically the science of fungi). The conversation was surprisingly interesting and interspersed with all kind of references to other types of content, like books and movies. One of these movies was called Fantastic Fungi.

So, after yesterday’s run was over, I though to give it a try. I still pat myself on the shoulder for doing this – and obviously, I’m grateful to Tim for bringing this to my attention.

Released in 2019, Fantastic Fungi is a very intriguing piece. It has a few layers to it, as it doesn’t talk only about a specific aspect of fungi, but mostly about how this type of life (which isn’t animal, nor plant) impacts our life. “Impacts our life” is an unfortunate choice of words, a more appropriate one would be “makes our life possible”, because without fungi, life on Earth, as we know it, will be impossible.

I won’t give you too many spoilers on the content, though, because that’s the point of this review, to actually make you go and see it. I will tell you though that it’s made in a balanced style, from a technical point of view. There is story telling, there are emotional accents, and the editing is what you would expect from a modern documentary.

Overall, it also manages to keep a balanced point of view even when it describes more delicates usage of fungi, like psilocybin, or the “magic mushroom” that people take to get high. There are some very touching moments related to that part.

I will end this short recommendation with a connexion I made myself, and I confess I didn’t search the internet to see if it’s actually true, but I guess it is. One of the main characters of the documentary is a man called Paul Stamets, a self-educated entrepreneur and researcher who advanced a lot the field, sort of a legend among the connaisseurs. Well, one of the main characters in Star Trek Discovery is called exactly the same, and, surprise-surprise, he is in charge with the hyper-drive of Enterprise which uses some sort of cosmic mycelial network to jump instantly from one place to another. I suppose this is an actual homage to the real Paul Stamets, the one that talks in the documentary.

But I’ll leave this up to you to discover.

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