Reviews of “Cosmic Zoom” (1970) and related work

“Cosmic Zoom” (1970) IMDb

Seen in 2019.

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.

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

“Powers of Ten” (1977) IMDb

Seen in 2019.

Out from a resting man’s hand in Chicago.

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.

References here: Earth from Space (2019).

moving picture non-fiction