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04 May 2007

For some reason this morning I woke up thinking about educational films. What do you remember about films and filmstrips from your school days? Can you find them online?
My favorite educational film ever was Hemo the Magnificent which I just now found out was directed by Frank Capra. It's geared towards elementary age students, and is probably reallllly dated. But it was so fascinating; everything you wanted to know about blood and never thought to ask. Animated, great sound, clever and humorous but never pandering.
posted by iconomy 04 May | 09:27
In 7th and 8th grade, one marking period, our gym rotation became 'Health' class. Health class consisted mostly of our gym teacher showing educational films. I think it was even broken down into four units: physical fitness, drugs and alcohol, sex, and nutrition.

The most memorable film was something that I think was called "Dead is Dead." At least that was the continual refrain. It traced the stories of three or four people in the throes of various addictions. The film was circa 1975, which was painfully hilarious to us students watching it in the oh so much cooler era of 1983 or 4. Retro revival had not yet happened, so making fun of the over-the-top 70s fashions and hairstyles in the movie was more of a focus than the anti-drug message. Basically, each long-stright-haired or afro-ed or bearded head in paisley bell-bottoms fell further and further down the well of dependency, until they died - and the host would intone "....and dead is dead." I haven't found that one online, but would love to. I imagine it would make me sick now - there was a lot of throwing up, a lot of convulsions, some woman-beating - but as junior highschools we responded with an awkward distancing sarcasm, and any time someone mentioned the word 'dead' for years, someone else would invariably respond '...and dead is dead.'

The other memorable one was one of the Ohio State Highway Patrol driver-safety films -- faded, luridly-colored, overexposed wreck upon fatal wreck. I think it was Signal 30. Even in high school I found it interesting that films that were already two decades old were still being shown; that no one had updated them or done a new version with slightly fewer buzz-cuts and De Sotos. Still, perhaps the old-ness of it made it even more scary.

posted by Miko 04 May | 09:32
Let me not forget to link the Prelinger Archives.
posted by Miko 04 May | 09:34
Skip from A/V Geeks has turned me on to tons of great films, among them: Check the Neck, Shake Hands With Danger (a personal favorite), Crash Bang Boom, Sex Education for Trainables. I could go on and on...
posted by Hellbient 04 May | 09:48
On Friday afternoons when I was in 3rd grade my whole elementary school would get together to sit on the cafeteria floor and bond. It was called Share (this was the 70s, god help us) and we all had to sing Today (Today, while the blossoms still hang from the vine, I'll eat your strawberries, I'll drink your sweet wine. . . ) which totally always led to chortling about the wine part and then sometimes we got to watch movies. One memorable Friday, it was an animated movie about the Miracle of Life. Apparently noone had bothered to preview it. The sperm in his little top hat and cane came dancing towards the buxom eyelashed egg and they kind of melded and started spinning around in 70s psychedelic circles. As they spun the soundtrack started going "whooop! Wheeee! Zing, zing!" and so on until the entire cafeteria was in complete hysterics and a frantically blushing teacher had managed to turn the movie off and the principal was exhorting us all to please be quiet and it's almost time to sing Today. That day went down in legend. They're probably still talking about it - it was so awesome.
posted by mygothlaundry 04 May | 10:37
I remember once in fifth grade, me and my friend Chris switched the filmstrips from one canister to the next, so that they didn't match up at all to the tape. Hilarity ensued. or something.
posted by jonmc 04 May | 10:46
It was always really exciting to be the person chosen to advance the filmstrip reel. Beeeep!

We saw a Miracle of Life film in the 7th grade - also very 70s. They showed nekkid man and lady parts. We were astounded.
posted by Miko 04 May | 12:17
Was that the one where the dad has a devil tattooed on his bicep? I remember that one.
posted by jonmc 04 May | 12:49
Mighta been! That sounds vaguely familiar, but my clearest part of the memory is gaping around the darkened classroom at the dropped jaws of my classmates - are you seeing what I'm seeing?
posted by Miko 04 May | 12:59
Some choice ones:

"Your Chemical Mind and The Government" (civics), and
"Venereal Cowboys Don't Ride" (gym class), or even

"Heaven Has No Use for Cheerleaders" (assembly put on by local evangelical congregation, where the moderator had skits done by teenage girls wearing full-length dresses.

posted by Lipstick Thespian 04 May | 15:10
We never saw actual nakee parts! Just illustrations! Dang fundamentalist yokels.

My favorite was one about eskimoes called At the Winter Sea Ice Camp. They make an igloo with ice windows (awesome) and play this game where they fish-hook each others mouths and pull unto the pain becomes too much.

Other than that, I only remember watching and assload of The Apple Dumpling Gang.
posted by jrossi4r 04 May | 15:15
Not a film, but I remember our kindergarten teacher doing the Duso puppet show
posted by Lentrohamsanin 04 May | 15:30
(posted too fast)
There's a link about it here. My experience would have been in 1979 or 80. Looks like the program is still being used.

"So long Duso, see you again..." Weird how that stuck with me.
posted by Lentrohamsanin 04 May | 15:32
In my freshman year we had to watch a film from the 70s where some hairy Elliot Gould lookalike gave himself a testicle exam in the shower. What fun.

The best film strip we ever saw was in elementary school, where we watched Rankin-Bass' THE HOBBIT on film strip. That was really, really low frame-rate animation...
posted by King of Prontopia 04 May | 15:42
the Winter Sea Ice Camp

Whoa, jrossi, I think I know what that was! MACOS. It is still considered one of the most groundbreaking, some would say subversive, pieces of curriculum ever. The idea was to put kids in the role of anthropologists, observing other cultures and gradually constucting an understanding of human society.

It was very cool. But very controversial, so it got yanked from a lot of districts. I never saw it as a kid, but studied it in college.
posted by Miko 04 May | 15:52
I don't remember school videos, except that horrible Red Balloon one every substitute showed us.

I did see some gnarly 1950s US Navy videos in my SCUBA class demonstrating the dangers of air embolism and that sort of thing. Blugh.
posted by small_ruminant 04 May | 16:02
I liked when the teacher left the room or daydreamed and didn't know we were one frame ahead of the beeeeep. Hellbient where are you? AV Geeks are here in my 'hood - they show lots of films at galleries and small music venues. Of course, I'm lame because I haven't gone yet.... but they are groovy indeedy!
posted by chewatadistance 04 May | 18:51
That horrible Red Balloon one every substitute showed us.

ACK! I had forgotten about that one too. That almost put me off all French cinema for life.
posted by Miko 05 May | 15:41
iconomy -- Hemo the Magnificent! Totally my favorite as well. Brings back the memories!
posted by NucleophilicAttack 06 May | 09:56
100000 Fireflies (or how i learned to stop worrying and love sleep deprivation) || three point status update