The UWI Museum’s viewing area was overflowing with students taking a peep back in time through the medium of film – well…film via the more modern dvd technology!
The museum’s copy of the film in question has no title. It starts with the narration typed over the opening scene: “A university institution should be in touch with a population if it is to have its full effect…” The narrator was then Deputy Principal Philip Sherlock – one of the university’s founders.
The film covers the life of the university through the experiences of the university’s first students from dawn to dusk, from study to play and from Matriculation to Graduation. Produced in 1953 by the Jamaica Film Unit, a fledgling national entity linked to the Education Department and the Colonial Film Unit in England, the 22 minute Kodachrome film ticked all kinds of boxes in its day: first film with so much colour footage; first film to be written and edited in Jamaica; first film to have its sound recording done in Jamaica. According to a Gleaner newspaper report of October 5, 1953, only the synchronization of sound and visuals and the processing of the film had been done in England, by the Colonial Film Unit.
While the museum’s copy of the film carries no credits, research shows that it was scripted and directed by Martin A. Reynolds, edited by M.S. Wheeler and photographed by F.A. Welsh. The film’s music was also home grown at UCWI, now the UWI.
The students, from a class on Introduction to Film, took in the historical as well as the cinematographical aspects of the film, and their lecturer, Rachel Moseley-Wood set them to consider how they would approach such as exercise, 60 years later!
Oh yes — and why is our copy of the film so depleted? It’s an example of what can happen to old material without a context for care. The film, on reel-to-reel, presumably got outdated. One, at the Mona campus in Jamaica, started breaking and was taken for repair. It has not surfaced to date. In Trinidad & Tobago, at the southernmost St Augustine campus, a sharp eyed saviour spotted an old film reel on a dump, rescued it and had it copied. A copy reached Prof Bob Lancashire in the Dept of Chemistry, and he routed it to the museum.
OTHER RECENT VISITORS:
As ever, our visitors are a mix of students, staff, and non-university individuals and groups. We get hosts of visitors that pop by en route to meetings and those who are coming directly to visit the museum.
Come on by and see what we have in store!