The sky is falling! The sky is falling! In Mark Landsman’s short film SKYLAB, it’s not Chicken Little but a young boy who becomes obsessed with things falling from the sky. The twelve-minute short film is set during the summer of 1979 when NASA’s Skylab, America’s first space station, was re-entering earth’s atmosphere. Twelve-year old Benjamin, whose parents have just divorced and whose mom is getting remarried, tracks the reentry of Skylab after its six-year mission. NASA didn’t know exactly where the re-entering space station would land, and Benjamin becomes convinced that his house, at the time of his mom’s second marriage ceremony, is targeted. All social interactions send Benjamin into paranoid scientific fantasies. Benjamin’s new step dad is a chemist, who proclaims that there is “not a thing in the world not made up of chemicals,” from chewing gum to toothpaste to soda. This doesn’t help.
Mark Landsman received a Sloan Production grant from the American Film Institute in 2003 to make the film. Though not intended for a child audience, it is told from the perspective of a young boy in a relatable position. The ‘70s costumes, with pastel colors, short shorts, slicked down hair and long mustaches complete the picture. The film is available to stream in its entirety below and is available in perpetuity in the Science & Film archive.