FIPADOC is an international documentary film festival based in France. A History of the World According to Getty Images makes the point that even though an intellectual property is in the “public domain” that does not mean that said property is available to the public at no charge. The filmmaker, Richard Misek, follows this insight by licensing some classic film clips of U.S. history then making them available without charge.
Intellectual property might seem like a subject both tedious and irritating: tedious because it is a complicated subject and irritating because the game is rigged. But this documentary keeps its focus narrow then takes it further by telling the story (as best as anyone knows) of each clip.
This is what got my attention to view the video: a street scene filmed from the front of a San Francisco cable car in 1906, a day or two before the disastrous earthquake. No, it’s not the morbidity of the clip but the chaos of the traffic on the street: horse, auto, cable car sharing a busy street without anything more than an ephemeral agreement on right-of-way and process.
Trust me. This is not uniquely San Francisco traffic for the time. I’ve seen similar films from Chicago and New York from the same general time period and they were every bit as anarchic.
This is why we have jaywalking laws, people! The casualty rate must have been as bad as traffic injury in the 1950s. But we’ve become educated in the pedestrian dance and habitual in its moves, so maybe we’ve outgrown jaywalking laws, mostly?
All of which has nothing to do with Richard Misek’s point with the documentary, but it is one of my pet obsessions and it is why I ended up watching this wonderful little documentary.
2 thoughts on ““130 A History Of The World According To Getty Images””
I loved the whole thing!
Thanks so much for bringing my attention to this!
I too was fascinated with the San Francisco street scene digitized at such a high level, since I often deal with writers living in this era. But like the film’s makers, I share their frustration with how difficult it is to access stuff that is in the public domain.
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