“Lucky Strike Beach”, “Start of Train Trip”, “Roll of French funeral, 1947”; these are some of the labels found on 31 never-developed rolls of film taken over 70 years ago by an American World War II soldier. One film was wrapped in some kind of a letter that reads: “I’ve always had a lonesome life, dreaming of success and love.”
Welcome to photographer Levi Bettweiser‘s world, the man behind the Rescued Film Project, who recently came across an anonymous batch of film, all from the same source; the same photographer; a find that he instantly knew potentially had extreme historical value…
“When I pull the film that I just developed out my developing tank, I am the very first person who has ever seen that picture. They’ve never been enjoyed, they’ve never been remembered and so it almost increases the weight of the importance of that photo because it has never had those moments before. And that’s the goal of the rescued film project.
We really look at every roll of film as if its the photographer’s mark in history … as them kind of saying, Hey, I exist and these moments in time were important to me! And even if the photographer is not around to remember them, we want to reveal the images to the world because those moments in time that were captured on these forgotten rolls film were important to someone at some point.”
“A huge hurdle when it comes to developing old film it that it has been rolled up on those rolls tightly for a long, long time. Anything that’s been wound up tight that long, really doesn’t want to be unwound … There is a large possibility that I might not recover a single image from any of these rolls of film.”
Watch with bated breathe to see how Levi manages to develop this painfully fragile film and not lose these images, forever…
All of the developed film taken by our anonymous WWII soldier can be found in large format on the Rescued Film Project.
Here is the full letter written on American Red Cross stationary where one of the film rolls was found wrapped inside:
And another typed letter found with the rolls:
The Rescued Film Project often gets asked where all these lost and forgotten rolls of film come from, and while it must certainly vary, Levi often shares how films are found on the project’s Facebook page.
“We rescue so many from old cameras like this blue Agfa 116.” Head over to the Tumblr to see the images rescued from this roll of 116 Kodak found in a 1930s Blue Agfa in Ohio.
Of course the project could certainly use your help if you’ve found some old film to contribute for free processing and archiving, or perhaps you might recognise someone in one of the photographs…
If you have found some film you’d like to see Levi develop, print off this donation form and send it along to The Rescued Film Project, where once processed (if it can be rescued), they’ll email you a digital copy of all the images for your personal use.