The Pollution Crisis (silent footage)

The 1970s film footage portrays contrasting images of natural beauty and environmental degradation, highlighting human activities and their impact on the planet.

The film opens with serene images of a tranquil lake under a snow-capped mountain, a butterfly on a flower, and a bird in a nest with baby birds, followed by a father and son enjoying a walk in the park. The idyllic scene shifts as they dispose of trash properly, but the subsequent images show the darker side of waste management with garbage men collecting trash, garbage trucks dumping refuse into landfills, and the father and son getting into a car, a symbol of increasing consumerism and pollution.

The footage continues with scenes of a car driving down the street, heavy machinery moving dirt, and water polluted by mining runoff flowing into a river. A clear stream contrasts with industrial activities like a crane lifting dirt, molten metal pouring in a foundry, and a man performing metalworking, sending sparks flying.

Factory smokestacks billowing smoke, a car being refueled, and oil being added to an engine segue into images of an oil rig in the ocean, hinting at the environmental costs of fossil fuel extraction and consumption. Images of sunken ships and a large freighter suggest maritime pollution.

The repercussions of pollution become evident with scenes of dead fish washed ashore, an injured bird covered in oil, and a gas processing facility, followed by the symbolic image of a car driving away from a gas station.

As the footage progresses, the narrative moves through different environmental issues: smog-filled cities, littered rivers, car junkyards, and burning trash reflect the escalating problem of pollution. An earthmover compacting trash in a landfill and polluted water runoff further illustrate these issues.

The film also touches on agriculture, showing mass farming, irrigation, and the negative effects of insecticides and thermal pollution. Dead fish in a polluted river and the noise pollution from jackhammers and airplanes emphasize the diverse types of environmental harm.

Despite the grim scenes of pollution and waste, there are glimpses of everyday life, such as people using public transportation and engaging in non-polluting activities like turning off lights and faucets to conserve resources.

The film closes with a return to nature, showing a father and son skipping stones in a park, perhaps suggesting a need to reconnect with and preserve the natural environment.

In summary, the footage from the 1970s presents a stark look at environmental challenges during the decade, juxtaposed with moments of human connection to nature and small actions towards conservation, encapsulating a period of growing environmental awareness and the consequences of industrialization.

We digitized and uploaded this film from the A/V Geeks 16mm Archive. Email us at if you have questions about the footage and are interested in using it in your project.

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