Nothing quite reveals the past more than amateur photography and home movies, most of which are unfettered by stylistic considerations, artistic pretension and other contrivances – they just show it like it is (or was) without any sense that this is not how things will always be.
Here’s a fantastic home movie from a holiday in New York, Christmas 1976, when King Kong was the big new film and the city was in the depths of economic collapse.
The unexpectedly well-crafted and long (nearly 20 minutes) film captures the towering skyscrapers including the Empire State Building and the World Trade Centre (both Kongless, sadly), but more excitingly includes assorted eccentricities – a ‘husband liberation’ demonstration, groovy ad hoardings and cinema displays, burlesque houses, Chef Wong’s Hunan Garden restaurant, seedy looking cops and some cracking 1970s fashion to top it off. It’s accompanied by a James Last soundtrack as an added bonus.
Those of you looking for examples of New York’s more cultural side might like this alternative movie from the same year, which has more rapid-fire editing and is packed with invaluable footage of grindhouses and sex shows, where Summer Brown’s The Joy of Letting Go, and pairings of Deep Throat and The Devil in Miss Jones are among the attractions. There’s also dancing Hare Krishnas, Godzilla for President graffiti and more glorious fashion.