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A 1960s Las Vegas Time Capsule, Restored
In the era of instant nostalgia—looking at a photo the moment it’s taken and then losing it just as quickly in crowded digital archives—there’s something particularly wonderful about a film like Jeff Altman’s dazzling "Las Vegas 1962". The saturated colors are Mad Men-gorgeous; the film a reminder of how Vegas used to be—all excitement and fun and Rat-Pack-esque glamor. What was it with the 60s? Was everyone constantly hamming it up, smooching for the camera?
But what really gets me about this
film is the human element: these
people, beautiful and young, destined to be someone’s grandparents. In
footage they are smiling and waving and having a fabulous time, the stars of the movie of their lives. It reminds me of visiting my grandmother’s humid Skokie, IL,
apartment and staring at snapshots of a chic, raven-haired lady who I
simply did not believe could be my little Nani. Waving from
convertibles? Posing with girlfriends on the beach? Seeing her this way
made everything feel different. Surprise—she hadn't always been old.
Altman inherited his grandfather’s 16 mm Kodachrome footage as a film student, but didn’t know what to do with it until he started working at a post-production company, specializing in color correction and film transfers. As he told the Atlantic, “Being able to do all of the restoration myself was, oddly, a nice way of being able to reconnect with my grandfather...The real disappointing thing to consider is how much film out there that's just like this, that people don't know what to do with, is just slowly rotting away in basements or attics.” This movie is so beautiful, so transcendent, that it’s sure to send many people to the crawlspaces, hoping to reclaim our own grandparents’ moments of youthful glory.
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