Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Interesting Movies, Online and Offline

Old movies can make a little window into the times of our ancestors.  Even if your ancestors themselves aren't in the movie, it can let you see what they saw and give a perspective from that time.

Have you ever taken a little day trip to Tijuana?  Someone in the mid-1930's made a 16 mm home movie of sorts of a trip to Tijuana and Agua Caliente.  That movie somehow ended up at the University of Washington at Seattle, which in 1975 gave the movie to the California Historical Society (CHS).  Now CHS has had the movie digitized and made it available online for free.  The people in the movie appear to have had some money, because they're all fashionably dressed.  I have to wonder if part of the reason for the trip was a divorce, because the person holding the camera kept going back to that sign.  Because I have two birds of my own, I really liked the street huckster with two macaws and a cockatoo (starting at about the 2:00 mark).

The digitization was done by the California Audiovisual Preservation Project (CAVPP).  Examples of some other films that have been digitized through this project include footage of the 1915 Panama-Pacific International Exposition; the 1933 Long Beach, California earthquake; and events at the Ontario, California Motor Speedway (my father watched a race there but didn't participate). 

But as I tell people in my newspaper classes, not everything is online.  The Tablet recently had an interesting article about Soviet Holocaust films.  Some films were made before the nonaggression agreement between Germany and the Soviet Union signed in 1939, while others were made after World War II.  They were suppressed and largely forgotten, however, due to the official Soviet policy of not acknowledging the Holocaust as targeting Jews.  Now they are being revived thanks to Professor Olga Gershenson of the University of Massachusetts at Amherst.  Some of them are now being shown at film festivals (hence the comment about offline). Short clips from two movies, Professor Mamlock (1938) and The Unvanquished (1945), are posted online with the article.  The Soviet films are particularly interesting because they show a different perspective on the Holocaust.  The early films are also some of the first that made clear the Nazi persecution of Jews.

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