When I was in elementary school in the late ’80s, for one year I was part of a program for gifted kids (which I wasn’t that crazy about, honestly, but that’s another story). One day they showed us a short film, a kind of dystopian science fiction about a man tending a greenhouse as the last refuge of nature. At the time, I found it pretty disturbing, and ever since I’ve wanted to find it again, but I couldn’t remember the title, and searching wasn’t getting me anywhere with the few details I could remember. Thankfully, the whatwasthatone community on LJ was able to locate it almost immediately — a film called “Ark,” made in 1970.
What’s interesting is that when I sat down to watch it today, I actually found myself a little scared. At first, I thought it was just that sort of thing where you’re afraid of being embarrassed by what frightened you (or what you loved) as a child. But as it started, I was aware of my nine-or-ten-year-old self remembering those people in masks tapping on the glass of the greenhouse, harder and harder — and thinking “We’re watching it again? What if there’s something worse in there that we just don’t remember because we blocked it out or something?”
It’s interesting, the things you remember and the things you forget. I had completely forgotten about the narration, which is funny because it’s almost nonstop — but at that first bit where the people are tapping on the phone booth, I felt my stomach clench just a little. I remembered that, and I remembered its effect on me back then, and for one tiny moment I was sitting in this little classroom again with a film projector going, the youngest kid in the small group, anxious and overimaginative and taking it all in.
What’s also interesting is that I have a short story in progress with the working title of “Covenant” that, in some ways, actually echoes this. I have to wonder if I was unconsciously bringing in elements of this film that had faded into deeper memory. *shrug* Or maybe it’s just a coincidence, since the Noah theme isn’t exactly rare in environmentally-themed science fiction.
With all of that said, if you care to experience what freaked me out back then and still makes an impression now (though I find it more sad/thought-provoking now than disturbing), I give you “Ark”: