Let's keep the color film-of-home-movies-of-cities theme but cross the ocean and change cities. Here's some astounding color footage of Berlin shot in--get this--the early 1900s. Just as with the color film of Manhattan that I posted the other day, the color makes the past come alive and seem awfully recent. People do what they always do--wander around, point at things, sit in audiences, smile, laugh, look bewildered. It was ever thus. Much as I love black and white, it separates us from the reality of the world it depicts. Color makes the past come shockingly alive.

The person who posted this dates the footage from 1900 on the nose, but I wonder. While some of it seems retouched and colorized, it's not at all impossible that it was originally shot in color, as color film was first available in 1904. Indeed, the reason for the footages existence in the first place may well be that it was test footage designed to show off an early color process. You'll see early tiny automobiles (or 'motors' as they were called then), horses, buildings that were probably decimated forty years hence and some very haunting faces of children who, assuming they were alive for another forty years, probably became Nazis. In the last minute or so the time shifts to 1914 and you'll see soldiers, the Kaiser, Russians and all the signs of the freshly started war in Europe, soon to be named 'The Great War' and sadly to later be designated 'World War 1'.

 Subscribe in a reader