When I was a kid we didn’t have tv. Yes, I did have a pet dinosaur. Somehow my parents discovered the local museum (and when I say ‘local’, I mean a 45 minute drive away, in part over unsealed roads) ran sessions comprised of 16mm movies – documentaries – in the museum basement. It was not unlike sitting in Tutankhamen’s private theatre, if King Tut had used those finger removing folding wooden chairs, later to be used by the Spanish Inquisition to such good effect.
I fell in love with the images (typically of New Zealand) from the National Film Unit, the national pride invoked by vivaciously positive sounding voice-overs, the haw-haw jokes, and the unique music – it was unlike anything heard or used in another context before of since. Add in the torture seats, the screechy-scratchy sounds of the chairs on the hard floor, the smells of mothballs and the flickering lights on the screen – plus, of course the thrill of being out with Mum and Dad past our bedtime – all set to be a thrilling experience. So, yeah, had the pet dinosaur, but also had an experience that probably couldn’t be re-created for our young’uns. They probably aren’t going to be uplifted by scenes of mountain buttercups fluttering in the breeze, blue skies in the Southern Alps, or majestic waterfalls. You can see how, when Peter Jackson bought out the National Film Unit, all that footage found its way into the Lord of the Rings, fantastic, even if they had to toss in a couple of hobbits and some other stuff. Gotta pay the bills I s’pose.
When I found the clip above I was reminded of the documentaries clattering away in the basement of the Wanganui Museum. It’s worth viewing just for the terrific production values alone, and of course, somehow the EU food hygiene requirements hadn’t been brought into play at that point. I imagine no-one died from eating lutfisk. I don’t imagine many of the people actually producing the lutfisk were later served such delicacies in the manner shown in the film… Culture. This is culture, that is culture, this is all culture.