Gertrude Stein home movie, ca. 1927

25 Feb

Late one night I was browsing the Beineke Digital Collections, and I came across this haunting home movie taken of Gertrude Stein. Shot on 16 mm film, and now made available through the wonder of the Internet, the film shows scenes from her everyday life in France. We don’t get a good shot of Gertrude until she takes off her hat to reveal her close-cropped head as she walks down a set of stairs at minute 2:50. The record for the video says that Alice Toklas is in these scenes as well, but I can’t pick her out among the hatted ladies. The film is, of course, completely soundless and is very much like watching ghosts as they pass through parks and restaurants and yards and streets. It’s completely mesmerizing. The final two seconds of the film show Gertrude beckoning to the cameraman with her index finger before all is dark. I also found a couple more cool old clips, including Richard Wright’s screen test for the role of Bigger Thomas (!) and a home movie of Sigmund Freud (!).


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