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Lost in Light is a videoblog about small gauge filmmaking featuring weekly posts of home movies, work by artists, articles by preservationists and film scholars, video tutorials and other film gems.




Cape Town, 1954

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More from the home movie collection of Mack Lundy, Williamsburg, Virginia, USA:

Capetown Vacation, March 24 – 27, 1954

This movie opens with a shot of the U. S. Air Force C-47 assigned to the U.S. Embassy in Pretoria, South Africa. My father was a TSgt in the U.S. Air Force and the radio operator on the aircraft. This footage was probably shot before the aircraft took off for Cape Town since it comes first and it looks like preflight maintenance is taking place. I became slightly obsessed trying to identify the type of aircraft in the background but had no success. I wanted it to be a Vampire jet which I remembered was flown by the South African Air Force but it didn’t have a tail wheel.

The next scene is a wall of the Castle of Good Hope (Kasteel Goede Hoop in Afrikaans) with Table Mountain in the background. According to Wikipedia, Castle was was started by the Dutch East India Company in 1666 and is the oldest building in South Africa. With all this history, I’m amused that my father only filmed a small part of an outside wall, apparently preferring to focus on Table Mountain. There is logic to the shot though. The camera pans to the right, across the wall. At the end of the pan, you can see a whitish blob on Table Mountain. This is the upper cable station for the cable car. Then you get a close-up of the cable station and the camera pans down to the base of the mountain, then scenes of Cape Town, and finally the cable car moving down to the lower cable station.

The woman is my mother, then around twenty-eight years old. Contrast how she is dressed compared to what you see tourists wearing now. I asked her about wearing a dress while clambering around on the top of a mountain and she told me that pants were seldom worn and shorts never. There is a long pan across Cape Town. Unfortunately it is a bit cloudy but you still get an idea of what Cape Town looked like in the 50s–considerably less built up. If you look at the same scene today you will see tall buildings, something not seen then.

The movie switches from the mountain to the shore. I believe my mother was filmed on the north-east shore of the Cape of Good Hope though my evidence is all inference: I used Google Earth to look at the coast line around the bay; my parents did travel out to Cape Point on this trip; and they were in Cape Town only two full days. A wider shot would have been nice here. Mom is still climbing on rocks wearing a dress though it appears she has added pearls this time.

Visit the File Directory page for a link to a high-quality version of the original home movie on the Internet Archive. More footage from the Lundy home movie collection here, here, here, and here.

Music: cdk, “The Raven”


Pingback from » Cape Town, 1954
Time: May 27, 2007, -5

[…] Original post by Jen […]

Comment from South African
Time: May 28, 2007, -5

Wikipedia’s partially right! The castle is the oldest complete building in South Africa – there are remnants of the fort, which the Dutch built before the castles. I loved the photos of the old cableway car, which I went up in in my youth. Thanks for sharing.

Comment from doug foland
Time: December 1, 2007, -5

have you ever visited cape town?

my wife and i going in feb ’08.

do you have any travel suggestions for cape town or south africa in general.

i would be very happy to hear from you.

thanks, doug foland perry, michigan usa 517-204-2301