Tales of Future Past v2

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Future Living

If you're of a certain age, you remember when music videos burst on the scene in the 1980s and if you lived in some larger cities, you might have come across that hideous marriage of music video, laserdiscs, and juke box called the video juke-box. If you haven't then consider yourself blessed above all other mortals. It was bad enough having to listen to Frankie Goes to Hollywood without having to see them hopping about uninvited down the pub.

Oddly, the music "video" is much older than that, dating back to the early days of sound when studios filmed musical acts as short subjects for the cinema programme. And even the video juke box is a bit more vintage than the days of Dallas and big hair. For your edification, we present the Scopitone -- France's other New Wave of the 1960s.

Using a new 16mm film format that recorded sound on a magnetic track, the Scopitone was a juke box with a rear projection screen that at the touch of a button would, despite loud, angry protests, fill any bar or restaurant with acts by the famous, the not-so-famous, the wants to be famous, and thank God never was famous. When it came on the market in 1964, it sparked a minor craze in France and Germany and despite aggressive marketing in the United States the fad died out and the makers of Scopitone machines closed up shop in 1969.

That's a bit of a pity because whatever Scopitone videos lacked in commercial appeal they made up for in enthusiastic directors who combined passion with an utter inability to frame a shot and a complete lack of capacity to grasp the concept of production values. As a small sample, we present Sylvie Vartan  singing  Locomotion for Scopitone in 1962.


Or something.

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