________________ CM . . . . Volume I Number X . . . . August 18, 1995

Planet Earth: Caring for Our Environment

National Film Board of Canada, 1995.
VHS, 27 minutes, $26.95. Closed-captioned.
Distributed by the NFB, P.O. Box 6100, Station Centre-Ville, Montreal, PQ, H3C 3H5
Fax: (514) 496-2573 / Phone: 1-800-267-7710

Subject Headings:
Human beings-Effect of environment on.
Pollution-Environmental aspects.

Grades 1 - 5 / Ages 6 - 10.
Review by Lorrie Andersen.

Alas, although this is a new compilation, the three short films on environmental issues collected here are not themselves new.

The first, "Lord of the Sky" (1992) is a strikingly animated story -- parable, really -- of a people who through carelessness destroy their harmonious environment. A brave young boy undertakes the courageous journey to visit the spirit world and the Lord of the Sky to seek rescue of his village from the ravens that are obliterating the sun, causing perpetual darkness. Through his brave and kind deed, the boy comes face-to-face with the Lord of the Sky who grants him his wish. The film-making -- using models, puppets, special effects, and cut-out paper animation -- is wonderful.

The second piece, nearly four minutes long, is "Paradise Lost" (1970). It's a wordless, depressing, animated film emphasizing the damaging effects of air pollution; it ends with the death of a bird, a butterfly, and other woodland creatures. No doubt "Paradise Lost" would be a good discussion-starter for adolescents and adults, but it's inappropriate for the young children at whom this compilation is aimed. Children need to see both the problems and the possible solutions -- why deprive them of hope?

The third film, "Journey of the Blob" (1989), would be more appealing to young children; many of them could relate to the young boy who conducts a kitchen science experiment. He discards the resulting blob by flushing it down the drain, only to find that months later it's back on his doorstep (so to speak: actually it comes out of the garden hose as he is filling his little pool). This wordless ecological tale of the water cycle was one of the best from the "Look Again" series.

"Lord of the Sky" is closed-captioned. "Paradise Lost" and "Journey of the Blob" are without words.

Recommended with reservations.

A librarian by training, Lorrie Andersen is Collection Development Consultant, Instructional Resources, for Manitoba Education and Training.

To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

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ISSN 1201-9364