Join Hands, Let Go

When browsing Facebook or other places you may have come across this GIF of a guy having a ketchup bottle go all Old Faithful on him and wondered just what’s going on here.

via GIPHY

Sorry (not sorry), but you’re about to take a trip down the rabbit hole here. Bear with me, this is a strange tale.

A few of you may also seen the most perplexing piece of film that this came from, most likely by way of RiffTrax. But what actually is this? Why was it made?

Amazingly, RiffTrax seems to be the only place I’ve found the video online. It’s worth paying them a dollar for what they do to gaze upon this… weirdness… and ponder along with all of us.

The reactions to most people after having seen it are similar to mine – see this Facebook thread for lots of mass confusion.

After being suitably confused by this and the fact that it was apparently produced and distributed (where?) by Encyclopedia Britannica, I reached out to them for the mysterious background behind this film.

Much to my surprise… I got an answer from them. Here’s the story:

Hi Tom,

 

Thanks for asking about the Britannica film “Join Hands, Let’s Go” (1969). This film was part of a series called Magic Moments, which was produced for elementary-school classrooms through the Encyclopaedia Britannica Educational Corporation.

 

More information about the concept behind the series can be found in this blog post, about a different film in the series: http://blogs.britannica.com/2013/09/britannica-classic-videos-magic-sneakers-1969. Essentially, Magic Moments films were “designed to be ambiguous in order to promote thinking and provoke discussion among elementary students.”

 

The following text, from a 1970s print ad, may give you an additional idea of what the series was aiming for:

 

“Today, we helped teachers hear from the silent minority. You’ll be delighted with the way even the ordinarily withdrawn child will respond to our imaginative Magic Moments film series. And your entire language arts class will react to these full-color 16 mm sound films with enthusiasm you never believed possible! Minds become unlocked. Verbal skills are encouraged that help develop reading and writing skills.  And children are eager to accept assignments. An ideal supplement to our Language Experiences in Reading program. Magic Moments should be seen to be fully appreciated. Twenty unique films in all—send for one film to examine at your leisure. You’ll see why Magic Moments makes the silent minority want to be heard.”

 

No doubt, these films are rather…odd. But hopefully, this context makes them a bit less baffling.

 

Best,

 

John M. Cunningham

Manager, Audience Engagement

Encyclopaedia Britannica

Well, if the goal was to be ambiguous and stimulate discussion, this worked— perhaps a little too well, along with a colossal air of mystery. I have to wonder how many language arts classes were filled with confusion and laughter by these film reels…