A few months ago, my husband and I finally got around to converting some old VHS tapes to digital files. We “borrowed” a VCR from my parents and a few home movies, thinking it might be fun to have some old movies as DVDs. What few found was pure gold.
Sitting in a box for nearly twenty years was footage of the first few years of my sister’s life. It opened with my late grandmother holding her newest grandchild for the first time, continued through her first birthday and a Christmas with all our cousins running around grandma’s old house. After twenty years, the tape was worn, fuzzy and warped at times, but it was priceless. As grandma held her, she talked with my mom about the baby’s wild hair and compared it to some of my aunts and uncles. There were our friends and neighbors I hadn’t seen in years. There were those little signs of the times, like the Cheers theme playing in the background. To some, this may sound completely boring, but to see a little piece of preserved family history was an amazing experience for me.
Why include this in my blog? Because not all film history comes from a prestigious list and has been on silver screens. The moment you hit record on your camcorder or newest iPod, you’ve preserved a moment. You’ve got an image of friends or family as they may never be again.
I’m also writing this because I chose to watch Laurence of Arabia right after five hours of these home movies. I still cannot bring myself to write on Laurence. Maybe it’s the shock of coming into contact with an image of my four-year-old self or I’ve been more moved by watching my parents cradle my newborn sister. And Laurence of Arabia is one of the greatest films of all time! Surely Roger Ebert wouldn’t be at a loss for words reviewing anything when he’s also seen touching home movies in the same day, right?
I don’t know exactly what I’m trying to say here, but as I think more about that tape and my dad behind the camera twenty years ago, I wonder if this is how we go on. We preserve our little stories today, whether it’s bringing the baby home, your son’s school play, a wedding or just playing outside, we preserve them to be found years later. We see how everyone has grown and remember the past. For a twenty year old tape to survive so well, it’s surely a blessing.
What more can I say than press record more often? We’re always pressing play, popping in a new disc, clicking on the latest YouTube. Get the camera out and preserve the world around you, just take in all in. Cause when you dust it off in twenty years, with new eyes laughing at how you’ve changed you’ll also smile and remember that old house, a car you wrecked, pets you had and family you miss.