Sunday, March 10, 2013

scrutinize the witch for the devil's subtle marks...,

tcm | We have the Alhambra, California police department to thank for 1970's USE YOUR EYES (RESIDENCE INVESTIGATION), an informational short clearly intended as a teaching tool for law enforcement. This 13-minute colour film opens with bouncy spy-film music as we are introduced to the scene of the crime: a normal-looking residence in which, strangely, nothing unusual seems to have happened, and it is never clear what exactly the police have been called to investigate. No matter, however; this film is not a narrative but a deliberate, eerily quiet exploration of the proper investigation techniques required to determine whether or not there has been illegal marijuana use in a home. Obviously, law enforcement officials were concerned that, unless confronted with a living room carelessly strewn with drug paraphernalia, officers might miss the otherwise subtle indications of recreational drug use. As a result, lingering shots of overflowing ashtrays, close-ups of everyday objects and scenes of someone actually appearing to smoke marijuana and hashish are combined with the calm voice of an off-screen narrator who helpfully walks you, the none-so-observant police officer, through all the steps you should wish to take to interpret the scene before you. Can you identify a lone "roach" lying in a cigarette butt-filled ashtray? If you see a hair pin or an alligator clip with burnt ends, would you know how this could conceivably have happened? If someone has a gigantic hookah sitting on their living room table, would you know what this object is generally used for? And, most importantly, are you aware that only the trained eye can make sense of these clues to avoid an unlawful search of a residence? This film also informs us that hashish use causes one to "float out of the world of reality toward a midnight of eventual regret and despair". But you, the well-trained police officer, can't put a stop to that unless you watch this film, put its techniques to work, and USE YOUR EYES.