Modern History On Film

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Film makers enjoy resurrecting, with some regularity, pictures of past years or decades and assembling a new view of a bygone era. With good material and skillful editing, the historically minded producer can bring forth a vivid document of history. Often, however, historic materials battle with the purely nostalgic for a place of prominence in the compilation. Three recently released 16mm motion pictures are examples of different aspects of this process.

Farewell to Yesterday (Films, Inc., 202 East 44th Street, N.Y. 17) surveys the thirty years between 1920 and 1950. Using newsreel shots of momentous developments in these decades, the film concentrates on international turmoil. World War II scenes take up most of the footage. This compact, comprehensive report will have increasing value in years to come. It could be updated, however, with a new conclusion to note the end of the Korean War. Yet in an interesting way, Farewell to Yesterday reflects the ideas and attitudes that were current in this modern world at the time of assembly.

A longer treatment and a more ambitious film because of the variety of materials used is Wonderful Times . This German production is available with English titles from Brandon Films (200 West 57th Street, N.Y. 19). By blending newsreels with entertainment films, Herrliche Zeiten places considerable emphasis on social history; but this review of a half century of war and peace also scans political and military history. The producers, surprisingly, are able to interpret much of their own tragedy with a sense of humor.

Stressing the turn of the century scene in Europe, Paris 1900 examines the life and surroundings as witnessed by pioneer cameramen. Their attraction to ordinary occurrences and their experiments and tricks with the cinema camera are about balanced in this French-made film. In addition, famous personalities from almost all fields of the time are again brought to life. This lively reminiscence of an era that was soon to pass into history is also available from Brandon.