A Short Vision (Joan and Peter Foldes, 1956)

Wild creatures flee in terror as a strange missile flies overhead. As it passes over the sleeping city, the world’s leaders and wise men look upwards. The missile explodes, destroying humans, wild creatures and the Earth itself.

A curiosity available via the BFI YouTube channel or in any of the BFI Mediatheques, A Short Vision is a short animated film that captured the imagination of a world obsessed with nuclear war and a fear-induced impending apocalypse. I discovered it during my latest visit to the BFI Mediatheque (a cracking service by the way) and found it completely captivating.

The animation style is jarring, with very little actual moving imagery. Instead, highly detailed paintings are used. Equally the score, provided by Mátyás Seiber, sounds overly eerie and fits perfectly with the visuals.

I don’t know what the purpose of the film was. It was originally funded by the BFI Experimental Film Fund. It’s incredibly depressing to say the least. The James McKechnie voice-over work doesn’t help either, his British voice relaying an almost biblical retelling of a horrible story.

To be honest, by the end of the film I couldn’t help but laugh. It seems so out of convention now that it would have aired on prime time US television as part of The Ed Sullivan Show. No wonder it sparked the biggest reaction since HG Wells’ “War of the Worlds” (presumably in terms of complaints).

Anyway, just watch it and see what you think. The perfect way to get you in the mood for the upcoming Hallowe’en season, or just to bring mood down if you feel in any way positive.

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