A rowing boat containing a boy and his dog moves across the surface of a lake. The scene freezes and we gradually pull back as our view grows to take in the lake, the mountains beyond, the country of Canada and the continent of North America. Still we fly, out of the Earth's atmosphere and into space as the world fills our vision... then the Moon... and so on...
Director Eva Szasz animated Kees Boeke's book "Cosmic View" for this memorable cartoon. It couldn't have been better named as it truly is cosmic in scale, and reminds one of the stoned philospher comtemplating the whole universe simply being one molecule, one atom even, of an entire other universe: if you've seen the very end of Men in Black then you'll know what I mean.
If you weren't one of those lucky enough to see this as a child, then you missed out on a vivid memory that alll those who did seem to recall with great fondness and not a little awe. It occasionally turned up on television during the seventies and early eighties to amaze the unwary, and bore significant similarities to Powers of Ten, that Charles and Ray Eames directed around ten years after this one. That version may have the scientific background behind it, but Cosmic Zoom has simplicity on its side and great as Powers is, the original slightly edges it out for quality.
We see the whole of our solar system pass by, with a close move towards Mars and a a glimpse of Saturn in the distance, but that's not all, as we become aware we are looking at out entire galaxy - then finally the entire universe. At this point the music, by Pierre Brault, stops and suddenly runs backwards as we "zoom" back the way we've been, faster and faster until we return to the shot of the boy in the boat. But it doesn't end there, as the scale of the universe is juxtaposed with the scale of a molecule in a blood cell being sucked out of the boy's hand by a mosquito - mindbending to say the least. Then we return to the boy on the lake, who continues rowing... if he is not aware of his place in creation, then we are thanks to the vast perspective the film has given us. As a whole the experience runs barely eight minutes, but a longer version might have been too much too handle.