Objects and Memory

Objects and Memory

“There are events that transform ordinary things into irreplaceable carriers of identity, emotion and memory. These objects help us find our way forward.”

Laid low by a cold, I finally managed to have a look at a film that I ordered some time ago.

Jonathan  Fein and Brian Danitz’s Objects and Memory is a beautifully made, very sensitive an hour long film examining the importance of objects found in the wreckage of the World Trade Center. The film focuses upon objects found and then returned to family of the owners of the objects, or the owners themselves.  Each of the “to camera” personal stories is extraordinarily powerful. You can help but be moved.

The film also documents the personal internal battles the city’s historians underwent, challenges over when to start collecting materials versus needing to be sensitive. And many of them personally affected by the events.

Staff of the unfortunately named Fresh Kills Landfill site, also get to tell their story and their role in sifting the material, and the importance they themselves placed finding items (including body parts) and returning these to families. A true sense of duty amongst a group of people we don’t normally consider in our daily lives.

The Philip Glass score gives it a very new york feel, but also the serenity that a film of this type needs.

The film is an major contribution to our understanding of the intangible impacts of the disaster. The attribution of meaning to a disaster and sense making is very important to the individuals affected coming to terms with the event. The film shows how objects can be important for some people to start making sense.  It makes us realise how important “stuff” is, and can become.

I’d recommend anyone interested in this area getting hold of a copy. It can be purchased from Ever, the company that produced the film.  It should be required viewing in any training or education course.

Philip Glass’s Low Symphony

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