Category Archives: Visiting researchers

The Five Year Diary (1981-1997)


This week I’ve been watching some episodes of Anne Robertson’s Five Year Diary with a visiting researcher.  It’s been great getting back into this work.  There were quite a few exciting finds among reels I’d never seen, including one with a soundtrack recorded during a review at Mass Art.  Anne discusses her work with her professors, Saul Levine and a second, as yet unidentified, man.  This episode is somewhat early in the work (1983), but the discussion is relevant to the work as a whole.

Part of my goal with watching more reels of the Diary is to prioritize reels for digitization.  Presently, 8 reels of the work have been digitized and are available for screenings.  It is our goal to digitize the entire work; we are prioritizing and hope to have more reels available this fall.

The final reel of the Diary (Reel 83, 1997), which was only accidentally so, includes some images that remind me of earlier reels.  There is some focus on weight, a theme from the beginning, as well as the family gravestones, holidays, and, as always the moon.  I’m going to have to watch the entire work – is there an episode without the moon?  The moon and Anne are the constant characters in the film.  Anne travels; her companion the moon meets her there.  Anne goes through cycles of mental stability; the moon waxes and wanes.

The Diary is most obviously a thorough evaluation of the self, but despite Anne’s obsessions about her own body and life, she is also a solid viewer of the natural world.  The moon is the face of it, but we see the seasons closely monitored, plant life, the weather.  Paradoxically, her romantic obsessions are found on television, and on programs that are anything but celebrations of nature.

Here in Cambridge, the summer is drawing to a close.  It’s made most obvious by the return of the students, clearly demonstrated by traffic and restaurant crowds, but Anne’s films remind me to look to the trees that are beginning to brown, the flowers that are going to seed, the vegetables that will require harvest before the frost.

~Liz Coffey

FYD 2 reading definitions of fat and thin


To Catch a Thief (Alfred Hitchcock, 1955)


Our colleague Barbara Flueckiger has been working on an extensive project documenting historic color film processes.  She was working at Harvard last year, and took frame enlargements of some of our prints.

Several images taken from IB Technicolor prints at the Harvard Film Archive can be found here. You can read more about the Technicolor process (a lost technology) on Flueckiger’s site, but the image above can give you a very basic idea of how it worked.  The film stock is B&W, and the color dyes were added to the emulsion.   It’s a fascinating system, resulting in beautiful, incomparable film prints.

The stripes to the left of the picture makes up the soundtrack.  In the image above, the soundtrack is called a variable density track.  Below is a variable area track.

Ms Flueckiger’s work also took her to the Fine Arts Library at Harvard, and several images are available in the section on toning.

We encourage you to click through the site to learn more about each process.  The images from early color processes are unlike anything you’ll see in this century.  The section on hand colored films is stunning, especially if you’ve never seen them reproduced.  There is some material in there on 9.5mm (see previous post).

If these images from TO CATCH A THIEF (one of my favorite movies to watch in an air-conditioned theatre on a hot day) and VERTIGO arouse your interest, keep an eye on our calender, as we hope to show this print at the HFA’s cinemateque later this summer!

Related posts: hand-colored lobby cards……



Vertigo (Alfred Hitchcock, 1958)