Saturday, June 26, 2010

Cipher in the Snow

Do any of you remember seeing a film in school called "Cipher in the Snow"? I was reading an article about bullying this morning in Newsweek, and it made me flash back on this movie.

I saw it in sixth grade or so. The story follows a quiet, bullied boy who mysteriously drops dead in the snow after getting off the school bus. His teachers are left to figure out what happened. The upshot is that he died from lack of love; he was essentially ignored and bullied until his heart stopped.

I got online and, of course, found the movie on YouTube. Part 1 is here, part 2 is here. Background info can be found on the Wikipedia page here.

Apparently, the movie was produced by Brigham Young University, which kind of blows my mind. What was my public school doing showing a movie with roots in the LDS Church? Seems like that should have raised a few eyebrows, even though the film contains no overt religious message.

Anyway, I remember it freaked me out. I was already feeling more than a little socially awkward, and I identified with the scene where the boy goes on a long walk picking willows and gets yelled at by his stepfather for daydreaming and ignoring his chores. I was bullied, I wandered, I daydreamed -- did all this mean that I could just drop dead?

The movie was effective enough that I've remembered it all these years. But I wonder if the school was really right to show it -- not only because of its LDS connection but because it was scary and perhaps not entirely realistic.

(Photo: Pigeons in a parking lot, Manhattan, last week.)


  1. I was bullied terribly in the 10th grade and would ditch school to avoid it.

  2. I was bullied in the sixth grade. Is there anyone who has never been bullied?

    Sounds like a very sad movie. I wonder what the reasoning was behind showing it.

  3. I never saw that movie, but I remember one we saw in 4th or 5th grade about not getting in cars with strangers. It showed what was supposed to be the two foolhardy girls' bodies after the stranger had killed them. Gave me NIGHTMARES for years.

  4. I'm sure the film was supposed to raise awareness about bullying. But the weird thing is, watching it now, it seems geared more toward teachers than students -- encouraging teachers to give more time to their students and be more aware of students' troubled personal lives. I guess it was for everybody.

  5. In my north Florida elementary school we had Bible instruction twice a month. Florida didn't much care about the separation of church and state back then. If they care today, it's probably only because it's legally required.

    That did sound like a sad movie that might not be so healthy for insecure kids or really for any kids for that matter.