Join 3,421 readers in helping fund MetaFilter (Hide)


VJ Day, Honolulu Hawaii, August 14, 1945
February 11, 2011 8:04 AM   Subscribe

Richard Sullivan has posted the 16mm color footage his father shot of the "spontaneous celebrations that broke out upon first hearing news of the Japanese surrender" on Kalakaua Ave in Waikiki on August 14th, 1945.
posted by zzazazz (44 comments total) 26 users marked this as a favorite

 
What is it about this era of color film that makes it so distinct? Does it have a really high contrast? Super saturated? I can't quite put my finger on it.

Also: I can't wait for the ticker tape parade and spontaneous celebration when we finally win in Afghanistan. That will happen, right? right?
posted by Think_Long at 8:13 AM on February 11, 2011


That's nothing. When Germany surrendered, we Canadians celebrated by rioting and looting liquor stores and in Moscow they drank a lot of vodka. How much? All of it.

This is very cool footage, though. Aside from all the sailors and soldiers it kind of looks like the way we celebrate The First Really Warm Day Of Spring (which Bill Simmons has dubbed "Tank Top Day") in Canada.
posted by The Card Cheat at 8:15 AM on February 11, 2011 [1 favorite]


This is brilliant. Very cool. Thanks zzazazz.

we Canadians celebrated by rioting and looting liquor stores

The people in that film seem to be coming out of their houses pretty well-stocked with booze. Literally armfuls. No need to break any windows.
posted by three blind mice at 8:18 AM on February 11, 2011


That's true. The guys at 00:50 appear to be chugging Scotch.
posted by The Card Cheat at 8:20 AM on February 11, 2011


absolutely awesome footage. I love this stuff.
posted by milestogo at 8:24 AM on February 11, 2011


I swear reality has come unglued since I grew up. There's a glitch in the matrix or something. Every few years color video magically improves, retroactively.

This what we were taught 1945 looked like when I was in highschool. Note that this is a professionally produced newsreel of the president, not someone's home movie.
posted by 2bucksplus at 8:25 AM on February 11, 2011 [5 favorites]


It must have been something to live in a time when you could look forward to one side surrendering.
posted by photoslob at 8:27 AM on February 11, 2011 [9 favorites]


Amazing stuff, and not too bad a job with the sound either.
posted by jquinby at 8:28 AM on February 11, 2011


Bizarre to see the number of (what appear to be) private homes along Kalakaua Avenue, including a few across the street from the Moana Hotel. Apart from the Moana, not a single building seems to remain from that era. Waikiki has doubtlessly seen the greatest degree of change on Oahu. (Head a few streets towards the mountains, and things age reeeally reeeally fast . . .)
posted by Gordion Knott at 8:45 AM on February 11, 2011


The Card Cheat: Your "all of it" link is busted. And I really wanted to read whatever it linked to. I can has fix?
posted by jeffamaphone at 9:15 AM on February 11, 2011


Aside on this comment: "Also: I can't wait for the ticker tape parade and spontaneous celebration when we finally win in Afghanistan. That will happen, right? right?"

We won the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan easily. What we're doing there now is a different thing. Great power wars are not occupations or insurgencies.


This is wonderful footage. My grandfather was a shipboard Navigator and Chief Petty Officer, and was in Hawaii a few times during WWII between operations in the Pacific. On VJ Day he was in just off Japan. He ended up stationed there after the war for several years as well. I have an aunt who was born on-base there. It's great to see footage of what were definitely his peers.

The story my family tells about my grandpa, on visiting the USS Arizona Memorial for the first time, many many years ago, and reading the names of the dead, he saw a name and said "That guy still owes me money!"

Christ I miss him. Thanks for sharing this footage.
posted by artlung at 9:28 AM on February 11, 2011 [2 favorites]


2bucksplus, according to the summary our cameraman is using 16mm film, which is pretty decent, and certainly better than the 8mm most home video was taken with. According to Wikipedia, Kodachrome also keeps very well. Per my limited understanding, it appears then that apart from the sensitivity of the film (which wouldn't need to be very high, considering it's all taken outside in daytime) the only unknown factor would be the optics of the film camera, and considering the high resolution of many still photographs from this era this probably wasn't an issue.

If you enjoy this glimpse into the past, you might also be interested in the work of Sergei Mikhailovich Prokudin-Gorskii. He was a Russian chemist and photographer who devised an early method of taking color photographs. His pictures, taken between 1905 and 1915, are quite unique.

Interesting post, thanks zzazazz!
posted by Aiwen at 9:32 AM on February 11, 2011 [3 favorites]


I cried.
posted by bonobothegreat at 9:39 AM on February 11, 2011


That was lovely, but the strange Foley soundtrack was overdone to the point that all I could think of was the way they used to dub sound to silent 8mm gay porn loops when transferring them to videotape. You have a perfectly good scene of cloneish dudes with mustaches silently humping with an almost entirely unsynchronized soundtrack of bored porn actors moaning in an echoey room played over top. I always wondered what the want ad for that job looked like: 3 men needed to moan and grunt for an hour, with occasional swearing - call Mr. Monroe with references.

Just weird.

Then I remembered I could turn the sound down, and it was lovely again.
posted by sonascope at 9:49 AM on February 11, 2011 [6 favorites]


Yeah, this is drastically better without the sound.
posted by dobbs at 9:51 AM on February 11, 2011 [3 favorites]


>we Canadians celebrated by rioting and looting liquor stores

The people in that film seem to be coming out of their houses pretty well-stocked with booze. Literally armfuls. No need to break any windows.


That's what we were fighting for, after all. A post-scarcity society.
posted by KokuRyu at 9:53 AM on February 11, 2011


My dad was born on this day as my grandfather was away fighting in the South Pacific. Of particular meaning to me. I have the letter that my grandfather wrote to his unseen son...welcoming him to the world. Thanks for posting.
posted by zerobyproxy at 9:55 AM on February 11, 2011


Incredible color in that blue sky shot!
posted by Liquidwolf at 10:02 AM on February 11, 2011


And with sound, too! I love raw, minimally-edited looks into the American past like this. While kids 50 years from now will have an endless amount of video of our time to look back on, it's difficult for us to get a look at 40s/50s society outside of movies and newsreels.
posted by Grimp0teuthis at 10:12 AM on February 11, 2011


...an almost entirely unsynchronized soundtrack of bored porn actors moaning in an echoey room played over top.

Because straight porn is so much more authentic (NSFW)

But I agree, the looped in sound on the VJ Day clip is kind of annoying, especially that one bit of traffic noise with the screeching tires and gunning engines.
posted by briank at 10:14 AM on February 11, 2011 [4 favorites]


I'll wait for the 1080p torrent, thanks.
posted by ofthestrait at 10:24 AM on February 11, 2011


Yeah, I got more than just a little misty eyed too.
posted by Xoebe at 10:24 AM on February 11, 2011


That was way better than I first thought it was going to be.

Original Kodachrome film: $X
Converting it to digital and sharing it on the internet: $XX
Knowing that, on this day, you were waking up on the first morning in four years without having to worry about being shipped off to the South Pacific to get blown to bits by a random mortar shell or undetected landmine, skewered by a bayonet, bombed or torpedoed into oblivion, shot by a camouflaged sniper or blasted to atoms by a "friendly fire" salvo from one of the heavies offshore: $PRICELESS!
posted by Mike D at 10:59 AM on February 11, 2011


This what we were taught 1945 looked like when I was in highschool.

But I'm sure you also watched the Wizard of Oz.
posted by dgaicun at 11:36 AM on February 11, 2011


This what we were taught 1945 yt looked like when I was in highschool. Note that this is a professionally produced newsreel of the president, not someone's home movie.

I believe the reason for this incongruity is that the technology to record color video matured before the technology to broadcast color video. Someone correct me if that's incorrect.
posted by odinsdream at 11:44 AM on February 11, 2011 [1 favorite]


The Littering-est Generation.
posted by Sys Rq at 1:16 PM on February 11, 2011 [1 favorite]


What fantastic footage! The music is a little sappy, and the sound effects a little Mondo Cane-y, but the sights completely make up for any of those (minor) shortcomings.
posted by 2N2222 at 1:32 PM on February 11, 2011


The purity of the celebration, the collective and youth-filled exuberance, the first day of something wonderful. I needed to see something like this. And the news in Egypt.
posted by a non e mouse at 2:07 PM on February 11, 2011


Sorry for the broken link: All of it (via this article).
posted by The Card Cheat at 2:13 PM on February 11, 2011


Man, Vimeo really needs a mute button. Once more without the jingo and sap, maybe? Also, it'd be nice to have all the footage, and raw. As it is, this doesn't really serve history; it serves a weird, hackneyed, nostalgized version of history.
posted by koeselitz at 2:35 PM on February 11, 2011


Man, Vimeo really needs a mute button.

Try sliding the volume to the left, dude.
posted by Sys Rq at 2:36 PM on February 11, 2011


(That said, I agree with your other points.)
posted by Sys Rq at 2:37 PM on February 11, 2011


i loved this (those sexy sexy cars!), but i wanted to hear the actual recorded sound of car horns and people shouting, not the song. why must everything have background music? grrrr.
posted by flyingsquirrel at 2:55 PM on February 11, 2011


Film cameras don't typically record sound, so it's unlikely that any live sound recordings exist.
posted by the jam at 3:13 PM on February 11, 2011


Ah, the difference between early morning caffeine, and late night cynicism. I'll be there later.
posted by a non e mouse at 6:50 PM on February 11, 2011


the jam: you're right, as per the film editor himself, in the comment thread below the video:

I've cleaned up the foley work a little from this version, but assembling the foley was the fun part, as many people believe this is actually a sound movie.

double grrrr.
posted by flyingsquirrel at 7:35 PM on February 11, 2011


I was thinking to myself, "Wow, where did they get all those cool old cars?"... Its been a long week. Thank you, that is a really beautiful piece of work. Vimeo is a treasure, seems like ultimate time sink.
posted by jcworth at 8:10 PM on February 11, 2011


Yeah, nthing "The sound effects suck" I mean seriously... do we really need a generic "chug" sound to go along with a guy chugging liqueur?
posted by delmoi at 11:50 PM on February 11, 2011


I just hate it when they put sound to material like this.

History documentaries are just terrible with this. Every History Channel black and white clip of WW2 tanks or airplanes, and often even people, has audio on it, which is just factually wrong. Even BBC Four documentaries very often can't resist to put explosion sound effects under WW2 footage. Bah!

I often think those videos are actually much stronger with no sound, or with just a musical score (or, for epic nostalgia, the whirring projector). It makes you focus on the footage, and your mind is good enough to imagine the kinds of sounds you would hear, far better than stock sound effects.
posted by Harry at 2:47 AM on February 12, 2011


(really glad I watched this with the sound off based on the comments in this thread)
posted by artlung at 2:56 AM on February 12, 2011


People seem to love adding cheesy music to stuff like this; my wife was given a DVD transfer of some Super 8 home movies her father shot when she was a baby, living in Paris and Singapore. Which is great, but the person who did the transfer decided to dub "You Are The Wind Beneath My Wings" over it. Thank God for mute buttons.
posted by The Card Cheat at 5:59 AM on February 12, 2011


Apart from the Moana, not a single building seems to remain from that era. Waikiki has doubtlessly seen the greatest degree of change on Oahu.

Yes, I expected that - and, yes, I was watching the background as much as the 'action'. But, I was pleased to see the same panoramas - the beautiful beach, surf and sky -- and Diamond Head. Even Fort DeRussey hasn't changed much.

Problems with the lack of sound? Gee, don't the rest of you have home movies? (Now I think I should get some of mine converted -- they go back to 1958 Libya!)
posted by Surfurrus at 6:02 AM on February 12, 2011


Oh, and one more observation. No locals in the film?? When do you ever see so many haoles in Hawai'i? I wish I could see a local version of the same day.
posted by Surfurrus at 6:03 AM on February 12, 2011


Yeah, except for the sound, it was awesome. And I too was wondering where the Hawaiians were. Apparently not Waikiki. But I guess servicemen were overwhelming the numbers there. That, or the cameraman just didn't care to capture Hawaiians on film.
posted by threeturtles at 9:47 AM on February 12, 2011


« Older Wetten Dass..? (Wanna Bet..?) is a long running Ge...  |  Donnie Moore was the Californi... Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments