Tuesday, February 19, 2008

CIPHER IN THE SNOW. Don't you just love unexpectedly digging up something you haven't seen since your childhood, have often thought about and never DREAMED you'd be able to actually find again?!?!?! Well, it happened several years ago when I finally tracked down a DVD of one of my favourite lost cartoons from my past -- a cartoon that they used to show us via the creaky old projector every Christmas at school -- THE GREAT TOY ROBBERY. I wrote about it a couple years ago on this lil ole blog (click here to read about it) and finally managed to get a copy from the Canadian Film Board. It happened again when I finally tracked down THE HOUSE WITHOUT A CHRISTMAS TREE which I saw on TV as a kid and only found on video MANY years later.
Well, here we go again -- tonight I just tracked down a film which has haunted me since I saw it waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay back in grade school . . . probably 5th grade . . . This short 24 minute film from 1973has been lurking around the dark corners of my mind ever since. Even though I haven't seen it since (and that was back in 1911) I can STILL seen the shocking (to a little kid like me) opening scene: It's winter and a there's a school bus full of kids. One boy has the bus driver pull over -- then the boy walks down the steps and out of the bus . . . a keels over face first DEAD in the snow!!! Now, this was some pretty potent stuff for we goofy, carefree little 70's kids to be confronted with -- and I'm practically positive that THIS was the first time it every occurred to me in my life that even a kid could die. Kids feel invulnerable -- but this little film made me say "Hold up! What's going on here?" Does anybody ELSE remember this movie?
It turns out that the kid in the film was "shy and ostracized" (as quoted on the back of the video cover) and was only known as a "cipher" or a "zero" in his school. He was just so freakin' lonely that he croaked! I'm supposing they showed us this movie in school to try to get us to be nicer and more considerate to each other. Who were they kiddin'?!?!?!?
For some reason, every now and again throughout my life this movie will pop into my head; I'll see the image in my mind's eye of the kid pitching face first in the snow dead. I even accurately remembered the name of the film all these years as "Cipher in the Snow". So for some reason, for the first time I actually decided to search the internet for it and found it for sale at some LDS (that's Latter Day Saints) video site; one might have known that a film this bizarre would be the work of Brigham Young University films. The DVD comes with four other LDS movies which I couldn't care less about since I never saw THEM. . .only this one weird movie was shown to us unsuspecting public school kiddies in the mid-70's. Looking over the imdb site concerning this little film I was surprised to find comments by A LOT of users who remember this movie from school just like I did. And now, in about a week and a half (depending on the reliability of the United States Postal Service) I shall be watching once again THE CIPHER IN THE SNOW. And who knows, I might even tell you about it -- I mean, I still haven't been able to write about L'ECLISSE so. . .

7 comments:

Cheekies said...

What the hell kind of depressing dying kid in the snow movie showing school did you go to? No wonder you are the way you are. You poor, scarred, bastard. A trip to Disney with us in October could make it all better though.

Cerpts said...

I know I know. The seventies were great, weren't they?!?!?

Yes they were!

And of course you realize that I went to school at that time in Maple Shade so whaddayoo expectorate? Actually, it was at Steinhauer -- BEFORE they painted it all oogly.

This is gonna be so awesome to have that DVD arrive in the mail and watch that kid go face down in the snow for the first time in about 30 some odd (VERY odd) years. As I recall, another awesome thing they did in the film is -- when the kid dies and falls face first in the snow THEY FREEZE FRAME IT!!!!!! And then they superimpose the title CIPHER IN THE SNOW over it!!! Yeah, man! Lingering death for the 5th graders comin' up! No wonder we went home hoping the kid in the Life Cereal commercial really DID die from swallowing soda and pop rocks.

Cerpts said...

But hey -- the GREAT TOY ROBBERY cartoon they showed us every Christmas was cheery.

As was THE CRICKET IN TIMES SQUARE and A VERY MERRY CRICKET and RIKKI-TIKKI-TAVI and. . .

Cerpts said...

Wait. . .did they show us DAWN OF THE DEAD in 6th grade or not???

Cheekies said...

Rikki Tikki Tavi rocked out!

Cheekies said...

...with his cock out

Cerpts said...

I think you have some unresolved issues with the mongoose.