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Two films of Venice in 1954 and 1970

This post is a little different from others on vintage-home-movies because it features two short clips of the same location, but separated by 16 years. The first clip shows images of Venice which were taken on Standard 8 movie film at Easter 1954 and the second is a super 8 film shot in the Summer of 1970, mostly in St Marks square Venice.

The two films come from completely different sources so are not related in any way, other than by the subject matter but I find them of interest because of the contrast the 16 years age difference gives. Unfortunately, the older film has quite badly damaged sprocket holes and has not scanned very well for the first half, which was of Rome, but the second half which I’m featuring in this post is reasonable. In contrast the super 8 film shot in 1970 seems significantly better quality and has scanned well.

Venice at Easter 1954

The first video clip which was filmed at Easter in 1954, is quite short, consisting of just the second half of a single 50 foot roll of standard 8 film and the definition is not very good.

The film opens with scenes filmed from a boat from the Grand Canal (I believe) looking at the buildings. There are then scenes one of the famous bridges in Venice, the Ponte del Vin, and gondolas navigating the narrow canals. There are then general scenes about the city, including some from quite a height – I guess the photographer had a vantage point in one of the many towers. The clip closes with bustling scenes in a market place.

Venice in 1970

The second clip is both longer and better quality than the first. The quality is improved because the film is not as old, and also being super 8 has a larger image area than standard 8 and therefore better photographic quality.

The majority of this film was shot in 1970 in St Mark’s Square, and is more interesting from a social history point of view because it shows people filmed in the square in normal life. The definition is much better than the first clip and it is easy to see the sort of clothes people were wearing and the items they were carrying with them. Although I don’t know exactly when the film was taken, the fact that many people were carrying jackets suggest that the weather was warm so it was probably summer.

Personally, as someone interested in vintage photography I find it fascinating to see the different cameras people are using – particularly the plate camera which appears at about 2 min into the clip!

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If you see anything in the film which you recognise, or you think gives clues to the location or date, please let me know in the comments below. Also, please share this post with your friends if you think they may be able to help locate a scene in this film.

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A software developer by profession and an amateur photographer by hobby I've been interested in all things photographic since I was a teenager some 40 years ago. Many of my interests centre around vintage film photography and cinematography.

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