Archive for June 15, 2010

Big, isn’t it?

Posted in FILM, Science with tags , , , , on June 15, 2010 by dcairns

I saw COSMIC ZOOM, a Canadian Film Board animation by Eva Szasz, when I was a small, microbe-sized child, and truly, it did freak my mind. As David Cronenberg has persuasively argued, it’s very hard to tell what will be upsetting to a child — he was terrified by a moment in THE  BLUE LAGOON (not the Brooke Shields version) as an infant, my friend Robert was terrified when he went to see BAMBI and was subjected to trailers for TOMMY and SHIVERS — go figure! — but even now I would guess that showing children a wordless movie that teaches that they are miniscule specs in a vast, indifferent and dark universe, prone to mosquito-bites and containing only viscous glop which, analysed at gigantic magnification, reveals only a featureless BLACK DOT (I swear I had recurring nightmares about that dot, which to me represented The End of the World — and I only just realized this film was the source)… well, it does seem possible that such a film might blow a few emotional gaskets in the Very Young.

Looking at it again, I dig the visual beauty, also the way the whole film occurs during the suspended decay of the last chime of a church clock, which seems very Cocteauesque. And Pierre Brault’s music is strangely disturbing, not just for the atonal swirl of the reverse movements back to “normal view” (to borrow a phrase from THIS ISLAND EARTH), but for the benign, tranquil quality which seems to embody the universe’s total indifference to human life and makes the film all the more terrifying.

I’m telling you, I’m shrieking through my fingers just at the size of CANADA, here.

In this age of Google Earth, what the movie does is maybe less amazing to the kids out there — the faux-satellite views of ancient Alexandria in Alejandro Amenabar’s AGORA didn’t wow me as they once might have, for the same reason — but the stylistic approach is still attractive, I think.