Film Trip To Nostalgia

March 29, 2009

Odd for nostalgia to grip me while viewing a century-old film of a place I’ve never been. I’m a sucker for black-and-white historical images as it is. But Barcelona 1908 conveys in seven minutes a longing for a simpler time — people on the streets amid streetcars, bicycles, and few automobiles.

Part of the appeal may be similarities to my home, bike-loving Portland and its expanding streetcar network. Work beginning this year will bring them close to my house. It’s a return to the past — streetcars crisscrossed the city for decades until the country went automobile crazy after World War II.

For all its emotional appeal, the Barcelona film is merely a snapshot and lacks the broader context of life in Spain in the early part of the last century. The next year martial law was declared when the people rose up against a decision to send troops to Morocco.

But why think of context now? Venturing back in this film gem is pure escape from our own troubled time. Watching it a second time I feel like one of the mischievous kids cavorting for the camera.

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