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A colony of ants, in addition to collecting food for themselves for the long winter months, are forced by a band of bullying grasshoppers to give a large portion of what is collected to them as well. They ants fear what will happen if they don’t give their food to the much bigger grasshoppers. They do it every year, and the ants have long just accepted the idea that working extra hard to accommodate the grasshoppers is their “lot in life”. One ant, Flik, who has a lot of ideas on how to improve the colony and make their work easier, is ill regarded by the rest of the colony. The ants are used to a certain lifestyle, and are afraid to alter the course of action that they know already works, even if it is stressful and difficult. After a terrible accident, Flik leaves the anthill to find help, and returns with a variety of bugs from a circus, who he mistakenly believes are warriors. The circus members follow him because they mistakenly believe him to be a talent scout. The bugs and ants all work together on Flik’s plan to rid the colony of the grasshoppers once and for all, neglecting their usual food collection. Once all the misunderstandings are discovered, the hope of freedom turns to panic as they realize that they do not have the food needed to appease the grasshoppers. A scramble ensues as they try to save themselves from the wrath of the grasshoppers.
Ants are known for their tendency to follow the plan, and do their jobs. They don’t question authority. They plan ahead to get the job done. This works very well for them, most of the time. However, when disaster strikes, one needs to think outside the box. Encouraging blind obedience to authority may make things run smoother for the leaders, but it is often not what is best for the society as a whole. New ideas are constantly needed to improve a community, rather than continuing to mindlessly go through the motions of what “has always been done this way”. One person may feel insignificant and helpless to promote needed change, but when many people get together with an organized plan, they are no longer insignificant. In fact, they can cause much resistance and become a formidable adversary. Many people don’t realize just how strong they can be. If often takes just one individual to stand up, and everyone else then gains the courage to stand up as well.
(If you have additional ideas on how this film can be used for educational purposes, please let us know in the comments below.)
Hopper: First rule of leadership: Everything is your fault.
Flik: Here, pretend – pretend that that’s a seed.
Dot: It’s a rock.
Flik: Oh, I know it’s a rock, I know. But let’s just pretend for a minute that it’s a seed, alright? We’ll just use our imaginations. Now, now do you see our tree? Everything that made that giant tree is already contained inside this tiny little seed. All it needs is some time, a little bit of sunshine and rain, and voilá!
Dot: This rock will be a tree?
Flik: Seed to tree. You’ve gotta work with me, here. Alright? Okay. Now, y-you might not feel like you can do much now, but that’s just because, well, you’re not a tree yet. You just have to give yourself some time. You’re still a seed.
Dot: But it’s a rock.
Flik: (shouting) I know it’s a rock! Don’t you think I know a rock when I see a rock? I’ve spent a lot of time around rocks!
Dot: You’re weird, but I like you.
(a leaf falls in front of one of the worker ants in the food line)
Worker Ant #1: I’m lost! Where’s the line? It just went away. What do I do? What do I do?
Worker Ant #2: Help!
Worker Ant #3: We’ll be stuck here forever!
Mr. Soil: Do not panic, do not panic. We are trained professionals. Now, stay calm. We are going around the leaf.
Worker Ant #1: Around the leaf. I-I-I don’t think we can do that.
Mr. Soil: Oh, nonsense. This is nothing compared to the twig of ’93.
(Hopper has just drowned three dissenting grasshoppers in a pile of seeds)
Hopper: You let one ant stand up to us, then they all might stand up! Those puny little ants outnumber us a hundred to one and if they ever figure that out there goes our way of life! It’s not about food, it’s about keeping those ants in line. That’s why we’re going back! Does anybody else wanna stay? (grasshoppers shocked – all the grasshoppers “rev up” their wings)
Molt: He’s quite the motivational speaker, isn’t he?
Hopper: Let this be a lesson to all you ants! Ideas are very dangerous things! You are mindless, soil-shoving losers, put on this Earth to serve us!
Flik: You’re wrong, Hopper. Ants are not meant to serve grasshoppers. I’ve seen these ants do great things, and year after year they somehow manage to pick food for themselves *and* you. So-so who is the weaker species? Ants don’t serve grasshoppers! It’s *you* who need *us*! We’re a lot stronger than you say we are…….And you know it, don’t you?