Tuesday, January 4, 2011

1956 - DISNEYLAND DREAM, the films of Robbins Barstow

Frank Rich, in his column in the New York Times mentioned the passing of Robbins Barstow an amateur home movie maker.  One of his films Disneyland Dream found its way into the Library of Congress.  This film is a snapshot of American life circa the middle 1950's.  In the film Barstow records his family's free trip to Disneyland after they win a scotch tape contest of all things.

I suppose you could call this a typical home movie from that period in the United States when everyone was filming their Christmas parties, family vacations and little league baseball games.  But it's easy to see why this film stands out.  Mr Barstow clearly worked hard to impose a narrative, break up the film with humor, carefully edit it and most importantly hold the camera very steady.  This is not an inconsiderable accomplishment and makes it stand out among a lot of home movies.   In 1995 Barstow added a charming narration, this man was a true auteur. 

The Barstow family is really the main attraction of this film, truth be told the 1950's Disneyland looks a little tacky with its phony idealized fantasy worlds and hooky rides.  But Mr. Barstow, keeps his film interesting as the family tours southern California.  You also have to give some credit to Mr Barstow's, spouse the ever smiling Meg, this woman was clearly a good sport. 

I looked at a few of Mr. Barstow's other films and this man was nothing if not prolific. You can see them at, this link.  He apparently never lost his interest in documenting his travels.

It seems appropriate that the family filmed Mr Barstow's memorial service and posted it along with his other films last year, in it Robbins Barstow's widow Meg sits silently in the front church pew, they were married for over 60 years

30 minutes.

No comments: