Leonardo Reviews on Cinema's Alchemist: The Films of Peter Forgacs
For a couple of generations worldwide, home movies and other films for private use were often people’s first experience with moving images. This was—and perhaps still is—a distinct experience and quite particular practice, since each of these movies were by and large made and watched by the same people, usually recruited from a small, intimate family circle. Rather than having makers and spectators, home movies are as a consequence better characterised as having “participants,” to use the term proposed by Roger Odin and Eric de Kuyper. For decades, moreover, this experience was enriched by reduction prints, often in abridged versions, of commercially released films of all genres that were for sale on the home entertainment market. In this context, these prints could also be used as ‘stand-ins’ for places or events a family had visited or witnessed. So, whether ‘home-made’ or purchased, the home movie, as practice and as experience, constitutes a significant fact of film history. This in itself should be reason enough for a film archive to include home movies in its collections as one particular instance of cinema’s many manifestations in terms of technology, use, purpose, venue or audience.