Educational Archives Volume Two – Social Engineering 101

Educational Archives Volume Two – Social Engineering 101 (2001)
Extras: Bonus Filmstrip

Do you remember those days in elementary school when the teacher would wheel in the old 16mm projector, dim the lights, and crank up a worn-out educational film? Well, Skip Elsheimer of the A/V Geeks Educational Archive certainly does, and he’s assembled ten classic films from the mid-to-late 20th century, which demonstrate just how funny and bizarre educational media can be.

This DVD collection is great for two reasons. One, there’s the nostalgia factor. If you grew up in the 50s, 60, or 70s, your mind will reel (?!) with recollections of your childhood days spent watching these films. (Especially if you were an ’A/V Geek’ and got the privilege of helping the teacher set up the projector!) Everything that you loved and hated about these movies will come rushing back as you watch such titles as ’Lunchroom Manners’ and ’Appreciating Your Parents’. Also, the films are presented here in the exact same condition, which they were in school (more on that in a moment). Secondly, there is a great deal of entertainment to be had here. To put it simply, most of these films, while very earnest, are very dated and very funny. In ’Soapy the Germ Fighter’, a young boy with questionable hygiene practices is visited in his bedroom by a talking bar of soap… who happens to be wearing a shirt with very puffy sleeves! Then we have the gem ’Why Doesn’t Cathy Eat Breakfast?’ which plays like a European art film, as we never learn the answer to the titular question. ’Educational Archives Volume Two’ is the kind of DVD that you’ll bring out at parties to show your friends. First to blow their minds with nostalgia, and second to have a great time watching some kooky old movies.

As mentioned above, ’The Educational Archives Volume Two – Social Engineering 101’ preserves the original presentation of the films. They are all presented full-frame and each one of them is riddled with defects from the source print. And while we would normally scoff are these errors, here it is part of the charm. Most of the films are in grainy black-and-white, and the color selections are nicely faded and washed out. On the audio side, the familiar hissing and sputtering from the old 16mm projector is there. The only thing that’s missing is the teacher running to yank the film when it got stuck in the gate! To make things even trippier, Elsheimer has included a bonus filmstrip on the DVD. That’s right, you use your DVD remote to go frame-by-frame through this filmstrip, which explores fears and anxieties. The only thing missing here is the familiar ’beep’ telling you to move to the next frame. ’The Educational Archives Volume Two — Social Engineering 101’ certainly won’t appeal to everyone, but to a certain age group, it will be a welcome addition to their DVD collection, and I can’t wait for more volumes in the series.