The Great Northwest

Matt McCormick

Fifty years after four women recorded their journey through the North-west of America in a scrapbook, McCormick repeats their journey. His film, which is also a kind of scrapbook, records the cultural changes of the past half-century alongside the visual ones.

In a junk shop, documentary maker Matt McCormick bought a scrapbook, in perfect condition, of a road trip made by four ladies in 1958 across several American states. Filled with photographs, invoices, menus and admission tickets to all kinds of sites to be seen. McCormick decided in 2010 to take exactly the same route, more than 3200 miles long, with his camera to record how America had changed - or hadn’t.
With a sharp eye for interesting frames, he provides a beautiful, experimental scrapbook film filled with wide landscapes in which people seem not to have intervened. But also with images of mining towns now gone to ruin which were still flourishing in 1958. A striking number of motels and bars seem hardly to have changed since then. The comparisons between old picture postcards and new shots are fantastic. McCormick provides no commentary, at most short screen texts about the course of local history or about differences between the routes then and now.

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