The Creeping Garden is a short and beautiful but not very profound tone-poem about a life form that is unglamorous and often neglected: slime molds. Animals and plants are extremely complex societies of eukaryotic cells. Eukaryotes are cells that have a nucleus and are much larger and more energetic than prokaryotes, cells without a nucleus (bacteria and archaea). Slime molds are composed of eukaryotic cells.

Support The Stranger

The documentary, however, does not go into these distinctions, but instead focuses more on humans in Europe and the United States who for one reason or another are obsessed with slime molds, who are amazed with all of the things these generally odd-looking creatures can do and how they can make decisions without a brain or solve a maze without eyes. One of these humans even plays music with slime molds (I’m not kidding), another believes that our kind has much to learn from their social behaviors and strategies.

But the most instructive thing about slime molds—and this, again, is not mentioned in The Creeping Garden—is why they transition from cellular to multicellular. When there is plenty of food, a slime mold breaks apart and becomes individuals. And when times are tough, when the food supply crashes, the individuals come together and become one, become social. And is this not a pattern we find in American politics? When the economy is doing well, Americans vote for Republicans. And when it crashes, they vote for Democrats. recommended