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Sends Copies to White House, Kremlin : Film Maker Aims Peace Movie on High

October 24, 1985|ELIZABETH CAMPOS | Times Staff Writer

Some people send letters and others march in the streets. But Glendale resident David Bowyer made a film as his pro-peace statement.

Last Saturday, as members of the Glendale High School Choir sang the Soviet and American national anthems beneath the flags of both nations outside a local post office, Bowyer mailed video-taped copies of the film to President Reagan and Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev.

"I express myself better with film than in writing or speaking," explained Bowyer, a 33-year-old amateur film maker who runs his own swimming-pool maintenance business. He sent his film to the White House and the Kremlin in anticipation of the summit meeting in Geneva scheduled for November.

Bowyer's eight-minute film, titled "The Last Covered Wagon," begins with still pictures of American pioneers and covered wagons. It continues with wilderness footage shot by Bowyer in California, Arizona, Utah, Colorado and Nevada, including shots of trees, streams and animals in their natural habitat.

Ends in Nuclear Explosion

Bowyer's camera then follows a modern "covered wagon," actually a black pickup truck with a white shell, on its trail to a Najavo Indian reservation in Monument Valley, Utah, where the film dramatically ends with borrowed file footage of a nuclear test explosion.

"People who have seen it think they are watching a beautiful wildlife film and are surprised by the ending," said Bowyer, who has taken some cinema courses at Los Angeles City College. "The pioneers gave their lives for this country and it can be all gone within a few moments."

There is no dialogue throughout the film, only instrumental music. It was filmed on 8-millimeter equipment and recorded on videotape for the copies mailed to Reagan and Gorbachev.

John Acken, Bowyer's cinema instructor last semester at LACC, said he selected "The Last Covered Wagon" as one of the five best films in his class to be shown to the entire radio/television/film department at the college.

"I was really pleased with the way he used music and how he combined images. I hope he keeps making films," Acken said. "I think most people were very moved by it."

Optimistic About Summit

Bowyer said he has never belonged to a peace organization. However, he views the upcoming summit meeting in Geneva with optimism and believes that ordinary people must make their views known.

In his letter to Reagan accompanying the tape, he stated: "In an age when we can all too quickly destroy what took them generations to build, I pray that wisdom, statesmanship and a new boldness and vision will prevail at Geneva."

In his letter to Gorbachev, he said: "You and Mr. Reagan have a marvelous opportunity to rise above the superpower suspicions of the past and set the world on a new and safer course."

Rebecca Brister, director of the Glendale High School Choir, said she and her students were invited to perform the anthems at the post office by Bowyer. "We got the call on Wednesday and learned the (Soviet) anthem in two days in Russian," she said.

Brister said she told her students that this would not be an official choir activity and that participation was voluntary. Nevertheless, about 12 students, half the choir's total, performed at the brief ceremony. Brister said a college admission test given on Saturday prevented more from participating.

'Do Their Thing for Peace'

One choir member, Jerry Jennings, 18, a senior at Glendale High School, said all the students wanted to "do their thing for peace."

"We're all familiar with the Cold War and want to see it solved," he explained.

Bowyer, who is originally from England and has applied for American citizenship, said he came to the United States seven years ago "in search of the American dream" and found it in his pool maintenance business and in making films. He said he spent one year making this film part time and on weekends. Bowyer said he is unsure how much the film cost to make and was unwilling to even estimate.

"I'm not bothered by cost. I can't and don't really want to put a figure on it. The experience of capturing the beauty of wilderness was worth it," he said.

Meanwhile, he is awaiting reviews from the White House or the Kremlin.

"I hope there is a positive response. I would like a letter saying that they've seen it," he said.

Bowyer will be showing "The Last Covered Wagon," along with some of his other films, on Nov. 21 at 7 p.m. at the Glendale Central Library.

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