Saturday, 14 February 2009

How Do You Know It's Love? Because it's from the Prelinger Archive

How Do You Know It's Love? (dir. Ted Peshak, 1950 - Coronet Instructional Films), here in a YouTube version with commentary by Josh Way. The full-length version, thankfully without the mocking voiceover, Mystery Science Theater 3000-style, is available at the Internet Archive as part of the Prelinger Archives. Sadly, it couldn't be embedded in this post.

What is love in this digital age, ponders Film Studies For Free on this fine Valentine's Day morn? Plenty of answers to that question, as well as to others of equal and greater import, are freely accessible at the Internet Archive, courtesy of the Prelinger Archives' treasure trove of Coronet Instructional Films.

The video embedded above is an adorable teen-example of Coronet's instructional genre, but also see Dating: Do's and Don'ts, Marriage Is a Partnership, Are You Popular?, Going Steady? and Communism:

Coronet Instructional Films were shown in American schools starting in about 1941. The company was an offshoot of Coronet Magazine, a digest-sized magazine that itself was owned by Esquire, Inc. Owner David Smart was deeply interested in visual education and the power of the film to teach and convince, and built a full studio on his estate in Glenview, Illinois, where at its height hundreds of films were cranked out each year. The films were sold to schools and libraries by a network of distributors and were quite successful -- in 1976 Coronet celebrated its sale of 1 million prints.

The archive collection that has publicly offered up these online video versions of the Coronet Films truly merits, and has won, Film Studies For Free's undying love. Indeed, the Prelinger Archives are ones that have been painstakingly built up as a labour of love for and devotion to otherwise rarely preserved films. The Internet Archive stores digitized versions of over 2,000 key titles from the collection for free downloading and reuse - an amazing resource for academics and all those fascinated by the crazy hinterland of the mainstream film world.

For a fascinating account of how writer, archivist and filmmaker Rick Prelinger set up his collection of 60,000 advertising, educational, industrial, and amateur films, see A Short History of Prelinger Archives, Part I . You should also experience Rick Prelinger's Panorama Ephemera at Vectors Journal. And if you'd like to be as inspired by Prelinger's digital and other activism as FSFF is, then watch the two videos below. As for this (very platonically-) enamoured blog, it sends a dozen, red e-roses though the blogosphere to the rather fabulous (and very well partnered) Mr Prelinger, in admiration of all his valuable work.

'Interview in San Francisco, April 2007. Here, Rick Prelinger explains why he used the films from his collection to form the biggest moving image archive on the internet. He talks of his offline library, and how all the above relates to the matter of serendipity in a query-driven information environment.'

'San Francisco, April 2007. Here, Prelinger underlines how innovative technology opens up new visions of the possible, but stresses that its ultimate effect is contingent on other factors. Many media platforms simply die and are not heard from again. Regarding copyright, Rick describes its emergence from an esoteric subject to a consumer issue, but emphasizes that from the point of view of cultural production, access to original materials will go on being more important than copyright issues in most cases. In closing, he calls for a dialogue between users and producers of culture, to establish a new compact.'


Anonymous said...

Hi Catherine,

Just discovered your blog. Nice to see another blogger who uses the public domain dedication.

You may be interested in the new CC0 waiver.

Also, here's a list of notable works dedicated to the public domain.

Keep up the good work!

Catherine Grant said...

Thanks jorel314! I'm interested to explore the new CC0 waiver and the other links you listed. Appreciate you dropping by.