Saturday, April 12, 2008
Last of the Curlews
Here is a legendary Reed family story about one of my childhood traumas.
It was the early '70s, and I was six years old or so. I sat down to watch an animated TV movie called "The Last of the Curlews," which as I recall was broadcast with sponsorship by Burger King. My mom sat down to watch it with me.
The movie was about an endangered species of bird, the Eskimo curlew. It told the story of one particular curlew who thought he was the last of his kind - until he found a mate. Then, in the movie's climactic scene, a hunter kills the mate. The curlew is left alone again, his species facing extinction.
My mom remembers watching this with me and thinking, as the movie's final scenes began: "Oh no!"
Sure enough, I burst into tears and still remember, to this day, how gut-wrenching that movie was. I've read more about it since then and learned that it was produced as ABC's very first "After School Special" in 1972. (I seem to remember it airing in prime time, but maybe I'm wrong, or maybe I saw a rebroadcast.) It won an Emmy the following year.
You know what, though? I wouldn't wish that movie on my worst boyhood enemy. It may have been realistic, but it was also way too harsh for many kids - definitely way too harsh for me. I think it's telling that I don't ever remember seeing it air again.
Does anyone else remember this movie?
(Photo: Anteaters, Brooklyn, March 2008)