Saturday, March 6, 2010

1920s London in Living Color

Thanks to PR who first forwarded this to me, one of my new favorite blogs/websites is How to be a Retronaut, with its tagline "If the past is a foreign country, then this is your passport." With an Anglo-centric focus, this site has an incredible array of old photographs and videos documenting historic aspects of the world and its visual culture. Among the most recent posts, for instance, are autochromes (some of the earliest color photographs) from 1910 taken by a women of her daughters. It's fascinating to see the recreation of everyday things and everyday lives like this. The genealogist in me loves this, and the art historian drawn to the 19th century in me is fascinated by how it brings us closer to actually seeing and understanding who these people were and how they lived. The video below is a rare silent film in color of London from 1927. It is currently one of the most popular posts on Retronaut's site. Since it's also on YouTube, however, I'm pulling the video from there. You have to be grateful that the British Film Institute is preserving these films. When you watch the video, keep in mind that you only have seen this in black-and-white before. Color versions have been recreations from Hollywood movies. To see it like this--live--truly makes you feel like you can reach out through time and identify with these people. As an Anglophile and frequent visitor to London, I'm amazed also to see people in the same places I have visited, like the Greenwich Observatory and Kensington Gardens. Fashions may have changed, but sightseeing has not.

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