Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Theodore Roosevelt on Film

Teddy Roosevelt was the first US president to be chronicled, in a large way, on film and so the American Memory site has put together a nice compilation of these records, most of which are available at the site. For instance, you can see TR’s inaugural and TR in Fargo (I just had to pick this one!).

Here is some background on the collection:
It has been said that during the silent newsreel period no president was more photogenic than Theodore Roosevelt. He was unusually cooperative with motion picture photographers, often pausing in the midst of official ceremonies to face the camera, bow, wave, smile, gesture, or otherwise accommodate the cameraman.

Because of T. R.'s love affair with the camera, and other fortunate circumstances, the Theodore Roosevelt Association Film Collection in the Library of Congress now constitutes a major visual record of the first decades of the twentieth century. The collection contains rare early motion picture footage, some of which is believed to be unique….

Roosevelt became a major picture personality during the early twentieth century because he was newsworthy as well as photogenic and because newsfilms were novelties and very popular during their formative years. He was the first U. S. president whose life was extensively recorded and preserved in the motion picture format. The collection reveals that although Roosevelt obtained fame before the motion picture form was perfected, he was one of the most frequently photographed subjects among public men. The majority of films in the collection are views of Roosevelt and other national figures participating in political ceremonies, delivering campaign speeches, and attending social activities. These items made excellent newsfilm topics primarily because of the high interest factor involved and the relative ease with which the filming could be preplanned and executed.

So go enjoy some TR films!

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