Man’s Search For Happiness (1964). 13 min., sound, color. USA: Brigham Young University Motion Picture Studio, Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.
They don’t make them like this anymore. I came across this when I was a Mormon missionary, circa 2000. It was dubbed onto an old VHS I found in a ward meetinghouse library in Reynoldsburg, OH. I’ve never been able to find it again, but I recently was reminded of this movie and thought to check for it on online, and found it in seconds. Weird to realize that in 2000 there was no such thing as finding or streaming a video online; now you can find almost anything.
The church remade this movie in the 80s and I think they still distribute that version, but it fails to match the weirdness and mystery that you will see here. I love the surrealist/proto-psychedelic moments. To a 21st century father, the scenes of the birth and the babies in the hospital feel almost dystopic, but I guess that’s just how they did things back in the 1950s and 1960s in America. There’s many other priceless moments, such as the awkwardness and bad acting of the old moustached guy as he is welcomed into the afterlife by his various kindred dead.
Plus, as weird as it all is, I think it’s also true. I sometimes have a desire to be both ironic and sincere at the same time. At no time is that feeling more relevant than as I watch this film.