Hamsters: A History

15 min. Dist. by AV Cafe. 2015. $10. $24 (PPR). ISBN unavail.
K-Gr 4—This documentary by Mike Fallek briefly details the history of hamsters. At first glance, viewers may be disturbed by the crude clay creatures and bizarre premise of the stop-motion film. It opens with a weird musical number sung by the animated hamsters living together in an underground village. The one female is portrayed in a sexist way, with exaggerated human anatomy, which is distracting and somewhat inappropriate. While singing a song about their way of life, the rodents are interrupted by another, who has had enough with incorrect hamster myths and wants to set the story straight. This critter begins to tell the true story of his kind, beginning with the various scientists who first discovered them, in what is now Syria. There is a teachable moment when the film explains that hamsters often eat their own young, but the situation is glossed over visually when the picture is disrupted by the "technical difficulties" message. Afterward, it is revealed that several baby hamsters have been devoured. The piece includes other tidbits, such as the fact that the animals eat their own feces and can be born with genetic defects. Though the short film is quirky and the tone overall humorous, some aspects of it may be inappropriate for younger or more sensitive viewers.
VERDICT This may not be suitable for classroom purposes. Viewers who gravitate toward quirky videos and YouTube shorts will enjoy this the most.

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