Topic: Rare footage of Yuri Gagarin restored, reunited
Robert Pearlman Editor
Posts: 27328 From: Houston, TX Registered: Nov 1999
posted 04-12-2011 10:57 PM
San Diego Air & Space Museum release
The San Diego Air & Space Museum Celebrates 50 Years of Spaceflight by Revealing Unique and Rare Footage of 1st Person in Space
Latest Digitizing Technology Used to Bring Footage Back to Life
50 years after Yuri Gagarin's historic flight into space, the San Diego Air & Space Museum is playing a pivotal role in reuniting two pieces of unique footage of Yuri Gagarin long thought lost and separated forever by using its brand new hi-def digitizer.
The 16mm film footage shows Yuri Gagarin arriving at Ringway Airport (now Manchester Airport) in Manchester, England on 12th July, 1961, and being greeted there by the president of the foundry workers' union who had invited him.
Gagarin was himself a former foundryman. It was Gagarin's first visit outside of the Soviet bloc, and at the time he was still the only human to have orbited the earth.
The footage was shown to the Museum's Director of Education, Francis French, as part of a longer roll of 16mm footage, in 1987 during a visit to the union headquarters in England. French was at the time researching Gagarin's visit to Manchester, research which was eventually used in a magazine article about Gagarin's visit.
The fragile film broke when it was being screened, and the union representative personally gifted French the broken parts of the footage. A still from the footage was subsequently used in the above-referenced magazine article.
According to UK press reports the remainder of the film footage was thrown away when the union offices were closed, and rescued from a trash pile at the last moment, before being given to the North West Film Archive at Manchester Metropolitan University, where it remains.
The San Diego Air & Space Museum used its new hi-def film digitizer, capable of processing 16mm film, to digitize the fragile film and show it on the Museum's YouTube channel as a free educational opportunity to learn more about a historic moment when East met West.
Talks have now begun with the North West Film Archive to digitally reunite the footage, allowing the film to be seen in complete form for the first time this century. The project demonstrates the importance of equipment such as the digitizer, which can bring long-forgotten footage back to life.
The entire section of the film fragment, including the aircraft landing, can be seen here.
"Watching the footage," explained Katrina Pescador, the Museum's head archivist, "I could immediately see why Gagarin had a magnetic appeal to the crowds that followed him. To have a Soviet military officer, in military uniform, receive adulation in the West at the height of the Cold War seems very odd. But just to watch this brief fragment of footage, and see Gagarin's charismatic smile, explains it all. It goes to show how a small piece of film footage, rescued in this way, can provide a key glimpse into a puzzling historical question."
Posts: 3093 From: San Diego Registered: Feb 2002
posted 04-12-2011 10:58 PM
The above press release, which the museum also posted as a blog, turned out to be an example of how a comparatively minor story about our museum's film digitizing machine can snowball into a big story, because of the 50th anniversary of Gagarin's flight.
This little scrap of film was one of the top items on the San Diego TV news this morning and tonight, along with the shuttle disposition story, and I did a number of media interviews with the BBC and others via phone in Manchester too. Nice to see the interest this moment when East met West generated today.
Although the film footage is very brief, I think the second link above (the slowed-down version) really shows in an instant why Gagarin captivated the West - everyone I know who has seen it so far has remarked on that winning smile.
It's been a fun little project and, through the kind assistance of Gurbir Singh in Manchester, I was able to establish that the rest of the footage (narrowly) survived and watch the entire thing digitally - the first time this century it was possible to watch it all.
Posts: 35 From: UK Registered: Oct 2010
posted 04-17-2011 01:17 PM
Thanks to your speedy blogging and press releases, the few days around the 50th anniversary have been particularly stimulating and exciting.
Naturally, it does not quite compare with First Orbit, but I have partially reunited your section with the original and is available on my blog here.
It now includes a couple of sections with Gagarin speaking whilst in Manchester, translated by Boris Belitski who was travelling with him.
posted 04-17-2011 02:56 PM
Great interview with Eric Brown, Gurbir. Never knew that Winkle had met Gagarin. The greatest test pilot (487 a/c types) meets the first man in space. Remarkable.
Posts: 3093 From: San Diego Registered: Feb 2002
posted 04-18-2011 06:31 PM
Thanks Gurbir - it is great to watch your edited version, especially where my footage blends with the rest after all this time. We're at over a thousand views of the footage on the museum's YouTube site, which is wonderful.
Colin E. Anderton Member
Posts: 63 From: Newmarket, Suffolk, England Registered: Feb 2009
posted 04-19-2011 10:08 AM
There's some great BBC TV coverage of Gagarin on the BBC site, including a press interview with British journalists (including Richard Dimbleby) - and part of the Manchester press conference.
Better still, they've got the entire ten-minute radio news coverage some nine hours or so after the end of the Vostok 1 flight.