Tonight I had the amazing opportunity to take part in an event that I have been pining over for the past few years since I became aware of its existence: I saw a film at the Alamo Drafthouse in Austin, Texas. I have been wanting to take a trip to the state’s capital city for a while now, and this week a series of circumstances and plan changes have made it possible for myself and my girlfriend to spend a week here, and I knew that I had to catch at least one showing at the Alamo Drafthouse during that time.
The showing we went to tonight was a special one. It was a Weird Wednesday screening of the 1978 Alan Rudolph film, Remember My Name, starring Geraldine Chaplin and Anthony Perkins. According to IMDb, the synopsis of the film is: “Just released from prison, a young woman arrives in town to “start a new life”, but soon begins stalking a married construction worker for no apparent reason, turning his life inside out and eventually terrorizing him and his wife.” While the film was brilliantly shot and contained unrivaled performances from its lead actors, my absolute favorite part of the experience was just that: it was an experience to see this film, multiple reels of a strip of celluloid running 24-frames-per-second through the projector and onto the screen in front of me, that has only had a VHS release after its theatrical run.
It is not unheard of for a film to be essentially lost to time, to only be available on film or VHS, but in today’s landscape of on-demand and streaming, it’s crazy to think about how something like that works. Why can’t I just go on Amazon or iTunes and pay $3.99 to rent this movie in HD? There is a countless amount of films that were created by a whole crew of people, just like those that make films today, released in theaters across the country or even the world, only they were shot on physical film, and that film has never been scanned in order to produce a DVD or a digital copy ready to be streamed. These films are completely forgotten about due to the changes in format of media consumption, along with the difficulties of distribution rights falling into oblivion in a world where companies buy other companies and so on and so forth.
Remember My Name is one of those films, and I just so happened to make it to Austin, on the week that they just so happened to be projecting the film in glorious 35mm. During the introduction of the film, as the programmer discussed the fact that it has been unavailable other than a VHS release, I knew that the film I was about to see, regardless of how I felt about the content contained within it (I really enjoyed it, btw), would be a once-in-a-lifetime experience.
-By Kirk Yoshonis