The film quality sucks.
The images are grainy, spotty, scratched and there are small hairs obviously floating around between the lens and film.
It gets worse, the colour is either washed-out or garish, and this isn’t helped by the fact the camera operator tends to over- or under-expose the film stock.
The hand-held shakiness can also make you queasy and the editing…well…I’d say they did a better job on “Plan 9 From Outer Space,” widely regarded as one of the worst-made movies ever.
Now that I got that off my chest, let me also tell you these are the finest films I’ve seen in years.
Not that you would be interested, unless you are enthralled by someone else’s home movies.
Yep, there’s Paul as a happy toddler, a goofy kid wildly jumping into a small wading pool, and the long-haired, somewhat surly teenager who acts like “he knows it all.”
The films also record the rest of the Rudan clan – all six of us – as we grow as a family through the 1960s, ‘70s and ‘80s.
Christmases, birthdays, holidays and special events are all documented through the decades, just like all home movies.
They show the friends I’ve grown up with all my life and it’s the “living historic record” of my grandparents and too many relatives no longer with us.
It’s been more than 20 years since I watched any of these home movies and the memories of them had slipped into the back albums of my mind.
But on Christmas Day, Dad presented his four children with a gift of a lifetime: He had all the movies put onto four-DVDs, and we each received copies.
After our gift exchange, we sat together and watched the first two hours with a mix of emotion.
How can I not laugh at myself, just six or seven years old and mugging like an ape for the camera?
And it’s nearly impossible not to shed a few tears seeing the people oh-so-important in our lives, but have left this life.
They’re all there and seeing them again helps rekindle and refine old memories.
So why am I telling you about the Rudan family’s old movies?
Well, I’m betting there’s a chest drawer somewhere in your home that has a bunch of old movies collecting dust.
They haven’t been watched for years because the light in the projector blew out years ago and getting another is next to impossible.
The other problem is the film stock is becoming brittle; films can break and then crumble.
Those memories deserve better. These movies need to be preserved and watched, and today’s gadgets make viewing more accessible than ever.
Do it for your kids or better still, do it for your aging parents and relatives. It’s one of the best gives you can ever give.