Educational Films

This entry is part 13 of 22 in the series Alternate Histories


In elementary school, sometimes we would drop everything & watch movies in the middle of a slow afternoon, old educational films from Coronet, Encylopedia Brittanica & Disney. My favorites were the ones with time-lapse photography. A great boat would take shape in minutes as scaffolding expanded like notebook doodles & workers leapt & swarmed as quick as thought. Or the classic: the wonder of a bud becoming a bloom, shedding its petals & swelling into a fruit.

Most educational of all were the rare occasions when the teacher would decide to feed the film back through the projector as she rewound it, so that everything went backwards at high speed. The law of gravity was replaced by the law of levity. We laughed & laughed as raindrops rose from puddles & cars sped through intersections in reverse gear without a single crash. You had to pay attention; everything happened so fast. I saw an oak shrink, furl its first green flags & curl up, the acorn closing around it like a healed wound. I saw a collapsed building rise from the dead, bullets return to their guns like homing pigeons & an ashen cloud condense & give birth to a bomb.