Maybe you’ve head of found footage before: old bits and pieces of film or home movie that give you a glimpse of the past. You don’t have to just look at found footage, you can take it and make it into a whole new reality.
Long ago in the olden days, far before the lomokino was invented, there were already loads of analogue film around. In fact the first movie I ever saw was a 3 minute film made by my dad, starring myself. Seeing yourself back on an 8mm home movie is fun. Seeing other people back on old snippets of film can also be a blast, and the older the film, the better. There is something really special about seeing how different the world looked long ago, and know that what you’re looking at isn’t fiction, but reality.
When people clean out their attics, or their late grandparents attics, they sometimes come across those films, and throw them out. Lots of film will be lost forever, some of it will be rescued by collectors or museums. It becomes found footage. Sometimes film museums or institutes will stick rolls and rolls of these old bits and pieces of film together. 50 year old home movies, 70 year old bits of documentary, scraps of ancient instruction film or propaganda. All forming a fascinating kaleidoscope of history.
But some people take it a bit further. Reality is all very well, but found footage can also be used for storytelling. One of the best examples is the film Forbidden Quest by Peter Delpeut. A brilliant mix of old film fragments and modern acting, it tells a gripping tale of a polar expedition gone wrong. An old man in the 1940’s recalls how he went on an expedition to the south pole in 1905. When they spot a polar bear (On the south pole! How is that possible!), they find a tunnel though the center of the earth, straight to the north pole. The scenes in the (ant)arctic are all composed out of actual expedition films, made by (among others) Frank Hurley. You may know Hurley from his beautiful pictures of the antarctic, made during the expedition on the Endurance with Ernest Shackleton. The silent images of endless snow, of a ship making it’s way through ever thickening ice, eventually losing that battle, are stunning.
What is so great about this film, is that is both incredibly real and total fiction. In your head you know it’s a silly story, and pure fantasy. But the stunning old pictures, scratchy and discolored as they are, drag you into the story as told by actor Joseph O’Conor and you’ll find yourself wanting to believe it all. After all, thruth is stranger than fiction.