The Past Revitalized: The Guy Jones Time Machine
Updated: Oct 20, 2019
The ability to record life as it happens is something we take for granted. We only have to raise our phones and touch a button to capture the scene before us. Tap a few more buttons and our recording can be shared with the world instantly! (For better or worse.) From 1830, many intelligent and creative people around the world invented and improved upon all the tools and effects used in motion pictures. Thanks to those with love for nostalgia and history today, there are vintage clips and silent films online that’d once been left to rot and mold through the rough passage of time.
Watching funny and whimsical silent films, we can trace the history of Hollywood style "movie magic." Enjoyable as they are, I find real enchantment in scenes of daily living recorded by brave men with cameras on random street corners. These filmmakers and reporters stood in crowded thoroughfares, interrupting the hustle and bustle.
They balanced their equipment precariously on the backs of trolleys and carriages to capture street life. They climbed above crowds, filming from a bird's eye view. They preserved special events, which meant everything to those present, but for us are now dusty footnotes in history books, if they're remembered at all.
One of the most excellent archivists I've ever come across on Youtube is Guy Jones. In the last four years, Guy Jones has meticulously cleaned up old, forgotten footage and added depth with carefully chosen music, sound effects, and voices to older clips. He's also created historical 'samplers' – compilations of music and photographs on particular subjects
My favorite feature of his videos? Speed correction! Because technology was still advancing, old footage portrayed life at double speed, creating distorted, jumpy views and exaggerated facial expressions and movements that young people today find haunting and creepy.
Guy Jones makes time travelers of us all. The enhanced footage opens windows to the past so clear we can reach out and jump in. These reels show average people around the world going about their lives, never once imagining they'll be viewed over a century later on large black boxes or handheld devices with moving images and sound.
Many pass along without a glance, some give the cameraman a side-eye while frowning or amused. In effect, they're looking at us, the viewer, curious about this interruption to their day.
Others stare amazed as if they'd never seen the invention. They shift uneasily, hands in pockets, ducking their heads in every direction. The camera-shy awkwardly smile and turn away, walking with an extra pep in their step to escape the intruding lens. And there’s many, particularly children, who laugh, point, and mug for the camera.
I urge history buffs to watch these videos. Guy Jones recently made two upsetting announcements regarding his channel.
All the Movietone sound footage that I've spent literally months and months of my life compiling and working with the sound and footage to look as nice as possible for the public is now being removed by the University of South Carolina. All these copyright strikes may very well spell the end of the guy jones time machine. Hopefully, these precious memories from history will find a new remastered life somewhere soon. Thank you to everyone who has enjoyed my channel through the years. Update: The University of South Carolina responded and really didn't appreciate my plea and only cares about the copyrights. Download any videos you enjoy now because they will all be gone very soon. Interviews with elderly, historic city footages, any uploads that feature real sound, all gone. Very sad day for me, and sad that people won't be able to easily find this stuff anymore. Sorry everyone, I tried.
He's devastated and I'm low-key outraged. The creators of these reels intended the public to view them freely. The University removed the videos with real sound from 1928-1944. I understand what copyright means and the penalties surrounding it. I would never condone deliberately stealing someone's work and calling it your own. At heart, most people, myself included, just want to promote something they love and bring positive attention to the original creative work.
In this case, what harm has Guy Jones done? Nearly everyone involved is dead, their descendants probably don't even know or care the footage exists (Trust me, later generations often lack interest in their family history. It's sad.) Guy Jones never claimed to own this footage and has made it accessible to everyone. But such is life. The University may have these clips in their archives, but they don't have the Guy Jones touch.
We live in troubled times and history (Particularly American and much of the Western World) is being systematically altered, censored, removed, and banned. Universities, Big Tech, Social Justice Groups, Mainstream, and Internet Social Media Platforms have joined forces to play "Big Brother" and silence voices and distort truths. At the very least, even if these film clips are accessible, you have to jump through hoops to find them with no outlet to comment on and discuss them. There's an alarming trend with the rise of "Cancel Culture" to "ban all things" which is frankly getting people fed up. What is the end goal here? Well, that's a topic that'll open a can of worms, more like springy snakes with fangs. I don't have all the answers, just more questions, and suspicions. But I believe history will play out as it should to a conclusion.
Guy Jones has delivered the past to present-day viewers and they love his efforts. These reels are "living" history. He has encouraged downloading what we can in case the copyright strikes get his channel removed. I'm very happy the hundreds of turn-of-the-century footage is still available. The Gilded age to WWI sparks my interests even more than the roaring twenties and the WWII era.
Voyagers Guidebook is dedicated to a TV series, but it’s a show about time travel which has respect and love for history and education, as do its fans. I encourage you to visit Guy Jones' channel, subscribe, and support him by considering a donation. And be ready to take fascinating tours through time!