Date Of Production
"The story of the development of the earth since the beginning of time. The formation of the oceans, continents, and emergence of life are shown. Time-lapse photography is used to show the succession of higher forms of plant and animal life. Ends with the advent of man on earth.
Produced by John Ott Productions in cooperation with the Radio and Film Commission of the Methodist Church." - Educational Film Guide 1953
Note: The digital representation of this film was created from the A roll, B roll, and negative soundtrack elements of Our Changing World.
The film begins in John Ott's time-lapse studio in his Winnetka, Illinois home. Ott greets the camera as he sits at a table while distributing seeds into a flat. He marvels aloud at the process of a seed's growth, and prepares to narrate a comparative story concerning earth's own creation.
The scene shifts to an animated sequence which depicts clouds of gases as they emit static electricity, a gigantic tornado that moves through space creating gravity, and the ultimate formation of earth. The animated sequence concludes and the scene shifts to landscape footage that Ott shot while traveling within the Western Hemisphere. He marvels at the minerals which comprise earth's rock and reflect all the colors of the rainbow, and poses the question to the viewer, "Do you suppose that all of this could be just luck or happenstance, or do you think it's part of an overall plan?"
Ott narrates early plant migration from the sea onto dry land, and accompanying footage includes time-lapse photography of spore-wielding horsetails and ferns. Ott comments upon the introduction of seed-bearing plants, and his time-lapse footage documents a pine cone's growth. He notes that the pine cone produces seeds with attached wings, and compares this to time-lapse footage of the dandelion and cottonwood tree which both bear seeds that benefit from parachute arrangements, and footage of the wild oat's seed which possesses its own legs.
Ott's narration shifts attention to an analysis of the formation of the western mountain ranges in North America, and accompanying climatic changes that brought about colder weather and the formation of the Great Glacier. Footage includes shots of Grand Coulee in Washington, Yosemite Valley in California, Zion Canyon and Bryce Canyon in Utah, and the Grand Canyon in Arizona, during which Ott describes "rocks of all colors and characters," and "rocks that have been twisted and bent under great heat and pressure." The scene shifts to Ott's narration of the February 2, 1943 eruption of the volcano, Paricutin, 300 miles west of Mexico City. Footage shows the surviving church of San Juan Parangaricutiro and ash covering the countryside, followed by a recital of the Bible quotations, Genesis 1 and 2 Peter 3:8. Then, Ott compares the life of the General Sherman tree in Sequoia National Park to human growth and notes that while "empires rise and fall, this great tree lives on."
Ott reflects that if the entire history of the earth were summarized within one calendar year, then during the last second of that year, humankind has "built our present civilization, has cut down our forests to make lumber, has taken coal and minerals from the earth to build our great cities...we are entering the atomic age."
The film concludes with a return to Ott's studio where he compares the total number of stars to grains of sand, ponders the ongoing potential activity on other planets, and asks the viewer to reflect upon what may take place on earth within our lifetimes given the current rate of human development.
Ott shot footage for this film in Alaska, Mexico, and various National Parks.
29 min 51 sec
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Participants And Performers