While on a meandering walkabout through the internet for some mental re-direction from a sniffly, head-shrinking cold, I discovered this:
London in 1927, and London in 2013, as portrayed in a meticulously shot split-screen video.
Eighty-six years later, in 2013, filmmaker Simon Smith traveled the same paces that Friese-Greene had, in order to make his own film. Smith matched the original films shot by shot, mimicking everything from the timing to the angles almost perfectly.
I went to college in London for a semester in 1999 (at the sweet, green age of twenty-two!) for my first lengthy solo-voyage. To say it was a life-altering experience casts a net that barely covers the main events. At this point, there are too many pages of journals that have formed a sedimentary wall in my parents’ basement to sift through to give specifics. But now, 14 years of hindsight later, specifics are superfluous.
What lingers with me most from my time in London was the sustained state of contrast.
Every day was a juxtaposition of sorts. The grand of St. Paul’s Cathedral and the tiny of why-doesn’t-that-boy-like-me? The ancient of the London Bridge and the current of term paper due dates. The uber art- and-culture of Tate Gallery as motivation and the hand-held literature of Ayn Rand as inspiration. The meandering pace of sprawling walks through Hyde Park and Kew Gardens, and the speed of rushing through the Tube-Stop to get to my subway.
Rain and sun. Leafy and urban.
It was a stretch of time living in two worlds simultaneously at once.
Which is why this video settled so comfortably in my eyes: London as Two Worlds. Then and now.
Yet, in this video, these worlds appear to be more similar than they are unalike.
Love elephant and want to go steady?
Editor: Catherine Monkman