As the Earth Turns” (Unreleased 1938 film, available for the first time in 80 years).
In 1937, in Seattle, a twenty-year-old budding filmmaker using his own equipment had already created 58 plays and 9 never released award-winning films. This director would go on to work for Disney, and eventually create an Academy Award-winning documentary in 1950. Richard H. Lyford’s films have developed a following among film-historians around the world. His early “amateur” films are some of the first “indie” films ever created outside of Hollywood. Lyford experimented with special effects, and models, and was becoming an excellent director. His final film of this era was “As the Earth Turns”. It was filmed in the Pacific Northwest, in and around Seattle.
“As the Earth Turns”, is presented for the first time after 80 years of development! To finish his vision, a professionally mixed orchestral soundtrack, by NW film composer, Ed Hartman has been added to the presentation.
“As the Earth Turns” is a 45 minute, sci-fi film that foresaw WWII, future-technology, climate change, and the extreme need for peace, as the world was drifting back into world war again. The main character, “PAX” (“Peace” in Latin), is played by Lyford, himself. The original story, by Lyford, features a scientist who desperately wants peace. He uses climate changing science to keep mankind from war. The lead actors are both male and female. The lead actress, Barbara Berger (aka Barbara Berjer) portrays a hard-working newspaper reporter. Her strong character, “Julie Weston” leads the hunt for the villain all the way to the end of the film. Berger had a long career on Broadway and television (ironically including “As the World Turns”).
The acting is dramatic, professional and realistic. Lyford used early homemade FX including controlled dynamite explosions and miniature models similar to those used in “Flash Gordon” (1936 Serial). His make-up work was excellent (he loved Lugosi and horror films) and his framing of the picture is mature and developed. Lyford was very capable of directing his acting troupe, as well. A legendary location in Seattle, “Gasworks” was used for PAX’s lair. The film has similar themes to “Things to Come”(1936), “In Like Flint” (1967), and even a little “Austin Powers” (1997). Some of the dialogue seems to come out of the TV series “Star Trek” (1966), and even “Dr. Strangelove”(1964). The film was shot in B&W, but the last scene was shot color for dramatic purpose, foreshadowing “Wizard of Oz” in 1939.
“As the Earth Turns” is an example of a true “indie” film, completely shot outside of Hollywood. It is an amazing educational film for any filmmaker to learn from. This filmmaking had no sophisticated technology available. It has multiple-exposure sequences (including a very professional title sequence), “day for night” shooting, simple transitions, and intense editing between live action and miniature model sequences. Richard Lyford did his best with very limited resources. This film is a great lesson for anyone in media creation, today.
Directed by Richard H. Lyford (USA)