Film: 5886

Religion | 1950 | Sound | Colour


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A study into the evidence for people having a soul illustrated by rather mad scientific experiments of an amusing eccentricity made in 1960 in Chicago.

In a large study with bookshelves lining the walls and a globe on a stand in the background, a man in a grey suit and pale grey tie sits at a desk, hands clasped in front of him and addresses us, the viewer with a cheery “Hello there. A hearty welcome to Moody Institute of Science” and then introduces the film which he says is about the institutes research into the human senses and the five special senses which have been called, he says, the windows of the soul. Close-up of a woman’s two blue eyes. A scene showing a high snowy mountain above a river lined with tall trees in somewhere like Yellowstone National Park. A river with the outline of mountains in the distance. Stop motion shot of springtime flowers coming into bloom. A peaceful river with duck on it, flag irises in the foreground and a willow tree on the opposite bank. A river lined with autumnal trees. A reflection of the autumn trees in the water. Autumn trees with leaves being blown about as the orchestral music denotes flurrying. Pine trees completely covered with thick white snow on a beautiful clear sunny day. A mountain hut with thick snow up to its door. A huge sun setting in a purple sky above a line of tall palm trees – as the music swells the sun goes down – all the above scenes depict the things we see with the sense of sight and are described in emotive purple passages.
Next we are introduced the sense of hearing – a wood at night with low bird noises. A sunny hillside with three horse grazing – tweeting birds heard, then a tapping of a woodpecker. Woodpecker’s head as it taps against the bark of a tree trunk. White clouds and the sound of thunder. A window pane with heavy rain lashing down. Spring blossoms covered in rainwater. A large steak on a barbecue grill is the first image which denotes the sense of taste. Close up of a portion of lemon meringue pie on a plate. A boy licks a large ice-cream cornet. A man by the side of a rushing stream next to a ridge tent – he is in the midst of dramatic wild west scenery with snowy mountain behind – he is cooking something. Looking down at his pan, he is cooking two fried eggs. Another landscape of high mountains and pine trees. White blossoms. Pink carnations. Very deep pink roses. A young baby lies on a table as his adoring mother hovers over him lovingly – the baby reaches up to touch the mother’s face – cartoon images from nursery rhymes on the wall in the background. Old fingers feeling a Braille script.

The presenter in his grey suit stands in a kind of laboratory – in front of him on small stands are a half section of a model of a human head, a model of an eyeball – behind him a long board on which we see depicted different elements of the colour spectrum from Ultra violet through X rays to cosmic rays – all very pseudo scientific and pleasantly dated – the presenter lifts a brain out of the human head and tells us it is the seat of perception. Diagram showing a camera looking at a drawing of a yacht – showing how the image is reflected upside down by the lens. Another graphic replaces the camera graphic with that of a human eye – the yacht still shown upside down on the back of the eye but then also showing the brain with the boat now the right way up. Another diagram with the eye seeing the image the right side up and the brain seeing it upside down. A balding thing man sitting at a drawing board introduced as Mr Graft , our optical expert who is looking at a ruler in his hand. Man’s hands holding a slide rule – a set square on the drawing board and drawn diagrams on his sheet of paper – we are told he is designing a pair of inverting spectacles. A workman in white overalls sits at a mechanical grinding machine as the metal wheel spins. Close up of spinning metal wheel. Metal filings coming off the machine. A curl of metal produced by the grinding machine which is making the spectacles. A man working on the spectacles which have metal bands to encircle the head and protruding metal eye pieces – the man is using a screwdriver to adjust the glasses – he then picks them up and considers them – very Heath Robinson.
Two men – the designer and another man in sports jackets and polo shirt consider the glasses together and hand the contraption over to the presenter who is to be the guinea-pig. Presenter says he will be the lucky person to test the glasses and puts the weird contraption on his head. The other two men adjust the glasses and the presenter looks up and down then starts to walk forwards. An inverted image of a cupboard on the wall which he is seeing upside down – the two men appear upside down, as if standing on the ceiling. A chair seen upside down – the presenter tells us he developed sea-sickness.
The presenter stumbles around the room feeling for a chair – laboratory cupboard in the background – he sits down, telling us that the simplest tasks became impossible – he sits down opposite another man at a desk – the man rolls a ball toward him and the presenter in the glasses is completely unable to put his hand on it. The rolling ball seen through the lens of the glasses, upside down and the wrong way round. The man attempt to intercept the rolling ball on the desk and it rolls past him. Man’s face- he wears the silly contraption on his head , then goes to take them off and then replaces them with a mask. Outside, the man descends a series of steps wearing the inverted glasses – he has to go very carefully – we are told that walking to work upside down was an exhausting experience. A typical U.S. street in a nice part of town with large 1960s automobiles parked on the wide, sunny street – a rising knoll of trees lead up to a large institute type building – our man in the experimental glasses walks the pavement – stumbling.
Through a circular lens we see the street upside down. Our man walks the sidewalk which is busy with passers-by who are turning and staring at him – they wear summer clothes of the 1950 and 1960s. We see the people on the street inverted, as the presenter sees them and then we see a sign saying Moody Institute of Science, upside down on the wall. Our man feels around for the door and finds the handle, opens the door and goes in. Now our man is walking in the street with confidence – other people on the pavement – we seen the sign for Route 66 on the pavement. We see his viewpoint through the lens – and now things are the right way up. Back to our man on the street in his mad glasses – ladies in 1950’s summer dresses behind. Diagram showing the upside down image in the brain turning itself the right way up. The man in the large study picking up a book and moving confidently across the room to the desk and sitting down and picking up the phone. The freeway in the U.S. with eight lines of moving automobiles and cadillacs. An inverted images of cars passing. Three men take a motorbikes from the back of a van on a desert dry lake – our man in the glasses, in white vest and trousers waits. He mounts the bike wearing the glasses, he starts the large bike and moves off across the desert sands. Man on bike does some twirls. Man riding the motor-bike with strange glasses very visible – we are in front of him travelling. Man on bike drives quickly past the camera. Man comes to a halt on the bike and another man runs up to him. Smiling, the man in the weird experimental glasses dismounts . 08.41.06
Next, a group of men stand in front of a light aircraft, one of them is the “guinea-pig” wearing the special glasses – a man with a cine camera on a tripod is to one side and another man crouches with a stills camera, taking a photo of the group. Closer shot of the man in the strange glasses being interviewed by a man with a microphone – an air force officer stands next to him listening. Repeat of the wider shot. Continuation of interview with the man in the glasses. More of the group standing by the plane. More of the interview. The man gets into the plane followed by the man in the air force uniform who is to be his co-pilot. Man in spectacles and weird head-gear through the window of the plane. Photographers film the men in the plane. The two men sitting in the plane, mad spectacles very obvious. The front of the plane, the propeller starts to turn, a few people watching. Briefly, the two men in the cockpit. The light aircraft travels along the runway making to take-off.; takes off, we see the plane from underneath. Light aircraft flying in the sky. In the cockpit over the shoulder of the man in the weird glasses. The airplane. Hands on the aircraft controls, other instruments visible. More of the flying plane – air to air shot in which the landing gear is seen coming down. Looking out of the front cockpit window as plane comes to land. The light aircraft lands on the runway. Aircraft running to a halt, one door open. The plane draws up next to two cameramen – a man with a microphone runs up ready to speak to the men in the plane, extends his mike. Man in glasses clambers out of the cockpit onto the wing, talking to the interviewer with the microphone – he shakes hands and then talks about his flight, shakes hands with his co-pilot.
In a book-lined study, five men in suits plus the presenter still in his head-gear and mad glasses, one man holds a ball. The presenter takes off his experimental glasses and smiles. Upside down shot of two men smiling. A man throws a ball towards the presenter who is seeing things upside down and he misses- he goes to sit down. Presenter now sitting at a desk with a large blotter and a phone – he talks of “mental and physical anguish” which resulted when he took off the inverting glasses – warns the audience not to try the experiment at home! Graphic again of how the brain turns the image seen by the eye the right way up. Apple juice being poured into three tumblers. A red candle burning. A carpenter using a spirit level to judge if a window frame is level. Pedestrian’s feet crossing a road – feet and clothing from the 1960s. A laughing audience from 1950s America – some in Doris Day type hats, men in dickeys bows. A man in whites bounces on a trampoline in an American town – does some somersaults. Looking up at the bouncing man through the springs of the trampoline. Graphic of the earth as seen from space – a white line denotes a trip towards the moon. Two astronauts in white helmets hover in a gravity free capsule – they waft around a bit. Upside down shot of fast traffic on a motorway. The presenter talks in front of a model of a head with the brain showing and another model of an eyeball in a socket. A hand takes a white sheet of paper – the hand draws a large dot with a felt pen on the paper – then the hand draws an X on the paper – then draws a horizontal line through the dot and up to and after the cross. Man with nice 195/1960s quiff hairdo in suit and tie – he closes his left eye – he holds the paper in front of his open eye. Over the man’s shoulder, he moves the paper back and forth. The piece of paper moving near to us and away – the X disappears and the broken line becomes continuous. A brick wall – a black hole appears – then the hole disappears. Snow scene in pine woods with a log cabin – a black hole appears to the right and then goes again. The presenter in his “lab” stands behind models on stools of the brain, the eye and the ear – he picks up the eyeball. The eyeball model close. More in the lab – he puts down the eye and picks up a tube from a television. Close-up of a tube from an old television set. Presenter in the laboratory holds the tube and walks behind a model of the human body with ribs, liver and colon exposed, points to the eye on the model. Model up close of the eyeball in its socket. Presenter talking about the eye standing next to the model. Graphic of the rods and cones of the eye. Another graphic showing an array of rods and cones in the retina of the eye. Presenter talks again in the laboratory. Man holds a pointer and indicates an area within the eyeball – sequence moving between the presenter and the eyeball – man explains the felicitous position of the eye’s blind spot. Man picks up a section of the ear and indicates a bit of it with a stick – the external acoustic hiatus to the tympanic membrane. His pointer indicating the bones of the middle ear. Presenter continues his talk in the laboratory and holds up the cochlear. Close up of cochlear model. Man talking again in the laboratory – says that if the system was reversed of how sound reaches the brain our ears would become loudspeakers blaring out our thoughts. Close up of the cochlear model . More talk about the wonder of the hearing system. Man walks over to stand next to glass receptacles in the laboratory – talks about the invisible particles which are molecules, Animation of black dots – molecules moving around. Man takes a vial of mercury and pours it into a dish . Mercury poured into a Petri dish from a bottle. Sprinkles the surface of the mercury with powder from a plastic bottle. Man holds a spring onion above the dish of mercury . The spring onion in close up moves the powder away from the head of the onion. Man next to laboratory bench picks up a pink rose and says to detect the perfume of a rose they had to devise more complicated equipment. Close up of what looks like a car engine with wires and tubes and a carburettor type thing. Montage where the pink rose is seen moving a patter of solid particle on the surface of mercury. Man next to model of human body , picks up a pointer. Model of human nose with man’s pointer indicating the nose. Presenter talking in lab. A man in a light suit stands next to a mass of equipment with dials and switches, moves a hose towards a wooden box, Close up of something called a “leak detector” – hands move about on dials. Man holding a hose next to incomprehensible piece of machinery designed to detect smells. Scientist in white coat selects a test tube of liquid from a row of tubes all containing different coloured liquids – he smells it, wafting his hand towards his nose. Presenter in laboratory now talking about the sense of touch. Graphic of the brain – animates to show the different areas for each of the senses. Shots of cross crossing telephone lines. Telephone cables in a telephone exchange looking like spaghetti. Back to the lab. Footage of a baseball game, crowds in the stands. Baseball receiver gets ready in his circle . Baseball pitcher stands and pitches the ball. Baseball player hits the ball. Fielder runs to the boundary and tires to catch the ball. Painted picture of a baseball game. Baseball player in peaked baseball cap in profile looking remarkably like Prince William – fades to a silhouette – then a brain appears within the silhouette – a dotted white line animates and enters his eyeball – flashing light in the brain – animation showing sound waves come towards his head – another light flashes in the brain – wind animates around the man’s head – flashing lights go on and off in his brain to indicate memory – then mathematical equations emanate from the brain. Painting of the baseball player. Baseball player graphic – this time he is depicted running. Baseball player graphic – he catches the ball. Old-fashioned dial-up telephone with man’s fingers dialling a number. Women’s hands in close up doing knitting. Close up of man doing short-hand on a reporter’s pad. Women’s hands beating a cake mix in a bowl. Man’s hands playing a piano in close up. Man’s thumb seen winding an analogue watch with brown leather strap. Woman’s hand punching numbers on an old calculating machine. Woman’s hand slicing a white onion. Woman’s fingers quickly typing on a typewriter , Presenter in laboratory again. Two electrical engineers working at a large wall of circuits. Close up of electronic circuit boards. Two connectors on an old fashioned circuit board. Shot of many reel-to-reel recorders in what might be an early computer room. Close up of reel to reel recorders with reels moving around. Electronic signals displayed on a screen. Electronic valves? Electronic boards with different dots lighting up. Flashing electronic lights on a telephonic display board. Another display of electronic lights on a board. Silhouette of a man’s outline standing in an aura of light coming from above – a graphic. Back to the laboratory and the presenter says that in Part Two we will look deeper into the sense to find implications stretching into eternity. Fade to black.

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