This staggering sequence of archive images presents the 20th century, which was drawing to a close when it first appeared, as an era shaped and driven by technological achievement. Pelechian intercuts shots of an expectant crowd as a rocket launches and the euphoric reception of the national heroes with scenes of horrific accidents involving manned spacecraft, airplanes, cars, and trains. The result is a mind-boggling anthology of humankind’s rises and falls.
Humanity appears to be in a permanent a state of intense pressure in its relentless race to go ever higher, further, and faster—to become more powerful or, when it comes to waging war, more destructive. It’s a power that’s spinning out of control, illustrated by the juxtaposition of explosions on the solar surface serving as a visual metaphor but also placing it all within a cosmic perspective.
Pelechian edited this condensed version of Our Century in 1990 from material he had presented eight years earlier in a 50-minute version.