“Cosmic Zoom” (1970) IMDb

Extent

Seen in 2019.

Subject

A live-action shot of a child rowing across the Ottawa River is interrupted for a zoom out to cover the known universe and a zoom back in to an elementary particle.

Commentary

Neither the pictures themselves nor the cuts between them are particularly good. For instance, it’s not clear whether the furthest shot is supposed to represent the universe or just a galactic super-cluster, and at the lowest level it’s just concentric vague orbs. Still, it’s a worthwhile experiment.

animation moving picture non-fiction

Remake:

“Powers of Ten” (1977) IMDb

Extent

Seen in 2019.

Subject

Out from a resting man’s hand in Chicago.

Commentary

Much more accurate, but the narration is excessive, and a lot of material is superimposed on the image: Orbits and each power-of-ten-metre square along the way. Given the choice to animate the atoms and subatomic particles, it would have made sense to do the same for the cosmic scale instead of just drawing lines.

The choice to center on a man’s hand again is interesting, suggesting a natural center of the cosmos in the actions of a man, and the implicitly male viewer pondering his own hand as the nearest visible object.

moving picture non-fiction