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Name That Trauma :: Reader Melissa on a Plague Ravaged, Burnt Baby

December 15th, 2008 by aunt john · 3 Comments

Hi!  Long time lurker with a request that has plagued me my whole life:

I’m looking for a movie that I saw the tail end of back when I was a little girl, probably in the late 1970s, on network television.

I walked over to my childhood friends’ house and found their older teenage brother Ritchie sitting on the couch watching a movie that he said was about to go over any minute.

I remember a scene of devastation, a never-ending field of treeless wilderness and a woman — perhaps with long dark hair and ragged peasant clothes, carrying a baby in a bundle close to her chest as she trudges across the scorched Earth. There may be bunkers… maybe even bodies littered along the countryside; something that indicated an incredible tragedy. Her silent walking while dramatic music swelled in the background made me ask Ritchie what was the movie about.

His explanation to this day is barely recalled. Although I do faintly remember something about a natural disaster, and him telling me that, “The world became very sick,” and everyone died except for a very few people.

The next scene has the woman finally kneeling on the ground as if she can trudge no more, cradling her baby closer and weeping. A man approaches her — he perhaps with shoulder-length dark hair and a beard — and asks her if she is okay.

The woman looks sadly up at the man and, with a vague accent, states, “My baby… is dead.”

Next scene we see is the man and the woman standing next to a grave that they had dug for the baby. Or perhaps it was a pyre to burn the infected little body. Either way I remember them standing side by side, both now silently grieving for the lost little life. And it broke my child-like heart.

I’ve been searching for this movie for years, but have never run across it in all my movie-watching habits. Googling movies about “plague” and the film METEOR came up that sounds as if it might have been a similar premise. But METEOR came out in 1979, which would have probably made it too late to air on television for me to see it as a child. Doing a plot search on several other disaster films from the ‘70s also came up unhelpful.

Then again it might not have been a natural disaster that caused the plague, although a part of me wants to remember that it was. I was really terrified of the whole out-of-control concept of natural disasters as a kid, and it had to have been something like that to have frightened and saddened me so much at the time.

AUNT JOHN SEZ: If anyone knows the title, please leave a comment or shoot us an email.

UPDATE: It sounds to me like reader Tychoanomaly may have hit the nail right on the head with Arch Oboler’s FIVE (1951)….

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3 responses so far ↓

  • 1 tychoanomalyNo Gravatar // Dec 15, 2008 at 7:26 pm

    “Five” (1951) Directed by Arch Oboler.

  • 2 unkle lanciferNo Gravatar // Dec 17, 2008 at 10:21 am

    Tychoanomaly,
    That sounds like it must be it!!!!

    Melissa, Here is the imdb link….

    http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0043539/

  • 3 aunt johnNo Gravatar // Dec 18, 2008 at 9:01 am

    Reader Melissa emailed this:

    This is Melissa, and I want to thank you for helping me find this movie!  I see that it is coming out onto DVD in February, so hopefully I might be able to watch it and relieve all the trauma, hoping its traumatizing freshness has been kept well preserved.
    Thank you!
    Melissa

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