Thanks For The Memories

November 23, 2009

Like the person who always wants to order last at a restaurant because they haven’t made up their mind yet, I always get stuck at the dinner table on Thanksgiving trying to think up something that’s the right blend of witty and sweet for the “I’m thankful for…” round robin. It never quite comes out right (but then again, neither does the turkey), so I thought I might give it a little forethought this year by considering what I’m thankful for this past year in the archiving & preservation world.

I had a few thoughts running through my mind on this one (which I suppose is a virtual tidal wave of action compared to normal). I could go culturally significant and choose something like The Red Shoes restoration or the discovery of missing footage from Metropolis. Or I could go nostalgic route and choose the release of Nirvana Live at Reading (can you guess my age?). Or I could go the mind-blowingly amazing route: There have been some advancement on the Leon-Scott front, but nothing will beat experiencing the premiere of the earliest known sound recordings at the ARSC conference in 2008.

But, no, it’s Thanksgiving; the sentimental always wins out on holidays. So I’ll have to go with the transfers my wife and I had made of some of her dad’s family’s 8mm home movies through the Standby Program here in New York. I’m thankful there are still companies doing quality work in this area, and I’m thankful for having the ability to make these films and memories accessible again. I don’t think the family had even watched the films when they were first developed, but they watched the transfers over and over and over again when we gave them to her dad. To be able to see old friends, old family members who have passed, and to share the stories behind the images was a special moment.

More special than seeing Kurt Cobain wheeled out on stage in a hospital gown? We’ll have to let history decide that one, but at least now the home movies corner has more of a fighting chance.

— Joshua Ranger