Family life as fact and fiction
in Amateur film
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Chapter 4 identifies the variety of family-related footage found in archival collections and its wider significance as evidence of social, cultural and demographic change. Scenes of weddings, family picnics, toddlers and children playing on the beach long epitomised the seeming banality, clichéd content and ordinariness of amateur film footage. Looking into and beyond these apparently happy families captured doing similar activities over the decades raises issues about the making and passing on of visual memories, parental dynamics in constructing family narratives on camera, childhood play and development. Implicit in these personal stories are recurring motifs, locations and activities that have both personal and collective significance, embodying cultural practices, expectations, aspirations and how identities, gender roles, and relationships evolve. Clothes, toys, places and people position these visual snippets that gain different significance as they move from private into public arenas. Personal histories interweave with wider historical change so that domestic details unwittingly denote particular moments in time and space –whether in late colonial settings overseas, Britain’s migration and settlement histories, or the glimpses of specific ideological changes that have affected the daily lives and life chances of the young, the old and those in between.

Amateur film

Meaning and practice, 1927–77

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