June 20, 2024

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Son of Monarchs | Film Review

We love to sit on the porch and watch the butterfly circling our garden. These amazing creatures inspire us with their beauty, playfulness, and wonder. There are over 18,000 species of butterflies. Those who study their habits of mating, eating, and migrating often get caught up in a dance about them. They are simply stunning.

Kaarlo Isaacs as young Mendel in the butterfly forests of Mexico

Son of MonarchsAlexis Gambis directed this movie with a rich thematic theme. It takes us into the complex and conflicted life Mendel (Tenoch Uerta), a biologist, who grew up in the Michoacanis monarch butterfly forests, Mexico. He has always been fascinated with these ephemeral creatures. He is now a graduate student in biology, mapping the genetics of the monarch’s unique wing patterns. He views this research as a way of supporting biodiversity.

Mendel, who has lost his grandmother, returns to his hometown and soon discovers that he is a migrant traveling between two worlds. Although science has allowed him to do exciting work, it has also taken him away from his culture. Although his family welcomes him back with open arms, he feels alienated from Noe Hernandez, his brother. Both were traumatized as young boys by the loss of their parents in a flood.

He is concerned about the destruction of the ecosystem that the butterflies depend on during their migration due to the changes in the area. He agrees with a local artist that social and environmental problems can’t be separated anymore.

This truth is also reflected in his personal life with Sarah (Alexis Rasmussen), an American woman who works as a human right advocate for cases involving Mexican children being separated from their families at Mexico’s border.

Tenoch Huerta as Mendel examining his tattoo

Mendel, back in New York, slowly makes a stronger connection with monarchs. He is a witness to their misery and potential and gets a large tattoo with butterfly wings to signify his desire to fly free.

Son of MonarchsThis film is full of thought-provoking themes, such as genetics and climate change, cultural identity and dealing with grief or trauma. Cristobal Marian’s music and Alejandro Mjia’s cinematography deserve special praise.

Monarchs in Mexico

Go Deeper

Sharman Apt Russell teaches Writing and is the Author of Anatomy of a Rose. We found it to be a work of exceptional clarity and creativity.
She also has authored a book title An Obsession with Butterflies – Our Long Long Love Affair With a Single InsectHere she pays tributes to these beings, who inspire wonder and remind us about beauty and transformation.

They would be missed by only a few flowers if they were not there. Russell said that human beings would be distraught. “Butterflies are more beautiful than any other group of animals. They look like they were made in art school.” We would be sad to lose their fleeting beauty. Their colors are a delight to the eyes, and we pay close attention. That’s a great feat considering all the other gorgeous faces competing for attention.

This beautiful book will help you discover the many reasons why butterflies are so beloved over the centuries. Russell discusses the meanings and stories associated with butterflies in the excerpt. Here are a few examples:

The Creator flew the butterfly over the world in search of a place where humans could live.

“At night butterflies bring you dreams
Butterflies were born from the tears of the Virgin Mary.
A butterfly will reveal your true love.
Butterflies are the souls for children.
A man who is in love feels butterflies in the stomach.
Butterflies are stray familiar thoughts.
Butterflies are both air and angels.