Fragments of the Living

Fragments of the Living

digital file, color and b/w, sound, 4.56 min
Fragments of the Living is an experimental/documentary short film composed of public domain home movie clips. The piece is a celebration of the American family, a nostalgic salute to the past and a meditation ...
Rental format: Digital file $50
Available for sale: Digital file $75

Stills

About

Fragments of the Living is an experimental/documentary short film composed of public domain home movie clips. The piece is a celebration of the American family, a nostalgic salute to the past and a meditation on the fleeting nature of life.

In researching stock footage libraries for a work project, I discovered several home movie files on the website Archive.org; most of the clips were dated from the 1940s to the 1960s. I became fascinated with the videos—the cinematic vestiges that originated from reels of old film stuffed in boxes and stored in dusty attics or garages.

And I realized these Super 8 movies were the forerunners of today’s selfies and YouTube videos.

It’s worth noting I had no connection with the people seen on screen; the films were not my family’s home movies. As a result, I observed the images from an objective viewpoint.

I enjoyed watching the subjects’ reactions when they noticed the camera capturing their movements. Some of the people smiled and waved, while others acted coy, and some girls even ran away from the lens.

I also understood that many of the men and women on screen were now either dead or very old. Yet in the clips they are alive and joyous as they celebrate holidays, vacations and special occasions with their families and friends.

I wondered if the subjects realized at the time that they were experiencing the prime of their lives, that the events captured by the camera marked their happiest moments.

The snippets of film revealed the ephemeral nature of life. In editing the piece, I limited each clip to only a few seconds. So we see a bob of the head, a smile, a wave, a blink of the eye and then we cut to something else. And I guess that “cut to” serves as a reminder to me that time is slipping away for all of us living here in the present.

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