Skip to main content
BFI logo











Screenonline banner
Magic Myxies (1931)

Courtesy of Viewtech Educational Media

Main image of Magic Myxies (1931)
For Secrets of Nature, 35mm, black and white, 11 mins
DirectorsF. Percy Smith
 Mary Field
Production CompanyBritish Instructional Films
MusicJack Beaver

The life-cycle of the Myxomycete, or slime fungus.

Show full synopsis

The Monthly Film Bulletin's Science Committee was outraged by this film - not for its photography, which it admits is beautiful, but for its commentary. Its review, although very seriously lacking a sense of humour, has a point. The film, released in 1931 (thus the early days of sound), is perhaps inappropriately jolly, and it certainly lacks that sober scientific tone that we expect of British wildlife film. It is much more reminiscent of the gung-ho voice of the newsreel. Worse still, it is inaccurate. As the reviewer fumes "'Myxie' is not too objectionable a shortening of the ugly term myxomycete [did the editor know they already had a non-Latin name, 'slime fungi'?] but the suggestion that a myxie is an animal at one point and a vegetable at another is absurd... Further we should like to know how a myxie can be said to be bad tempered, and why accelerated photography should confer on it the power to 'quiver with delight'."

Anthropomorphising the natural world has always been frowned on by British wildlife filmmakers (not least Sir David Attenborough) and while we may enjoy the ebullient commentary - which certainly helps to sell a difficult subject - in the end, we probably have to agree with the verdict of the Science Committee.

Bryony Dixon

Click titles to see or read more

Video Clips
Complete film (10:03)
Complete film (10:19)
Field, Mary (1896-1968)
Smith, F. Percy (1880-1945)
Early Natural History Filmmaking
Science in Non-Fiction Film
Secrets of Nature (1922-33)
Women Non-Fiction Filmmakers 1930-1960