Reviving Technology

Canon Super 8 camera, circa 1976. | Photo: Uberpruster / CC BY-SA 3.0

As part of my History in Technology class at N.C. State, I have to submit five blog entries on the course website where we take technology (either online or in movies) and connect them to themes we’ve talked about in class. I decided to repost my first one here as I revisited one of my favorite movies, Super 8, and how J.J. Abrams and Steven Spielberg revived an outdated technology. Enjoy!

Over the summer, I saw the J.J. Abrams and Steven Spielberg film Super 8 which is a Sci-Fi thriller based in a 1979 town. The premise of the film is how a group of friends witness a horrific train crash; and investigate many unexplained events that happen after. However, I want to dive deeper into the very title of the film. In case you didn’t know, Super 8 is a term used to describe a type of motion picture film originally released in 1965. It gets its name from the width of the film itself, which is 8mm. In the digital age, we hardly ever hear of filming in this format. There are so many more enhanced (and arguably) better ways to record films. Despite this, Abrams and Spielberg wanted to revive an arguably outdated practice and bring it to light in 2011. That is exactly what they did.

In the film, we see the main characters using a Super 8 film camera multiple times as the friends in the movie work on a short film for a festival. Their work led them to the train station which is where they witnessed the train crash. In addition to the short film, the entire train crash was captured on the Super 8 film, which becomes vital to figuring out what is going on in the town. Abrams even went as far as filming portions of the movie using actual Pro8mm stock and cameras.

So, what does this all mean? The release of the film created a buzz in our popular culture. For instance, contestants on the singing competition “American Idol” were given Super 8 film cameras to capture special moments while on the show. There was even a Super 8 app created which allowed users to film actual events in this format using their smartphones. With the movie, Abrams and Spielberg fused two worlds, more than thirty years apart, together. The duo showed how an outdated technology could be revived and used again in today’s time.

Information Gathered From
Super 8mm Film. (2012, January 16). Retrieved January 17, 2012, from Wikipedia:

Super 8 (2011). (n.d.). Retrieved January 17, 2012, from IMDb:

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