I first read about these historical videos made of a film of Lima in the 1940s as a brief mention by David Sasaki on Global Voices Online, who noted they had appeared on the Peruvian blog, pospost, by the Lima-based poet and journalist, Fernando Obregón Rossi. The videos are originally posted on You Tube by poetafer.
I give some background information about the film; if you prefer, go straight to the videos to watch them.
This film, called simply Lima, was funded by US Coordinator of Inter-American Affairs, a government agency from 1940 to 1946 aimed at promoting increased commercial and economic cooperation among the US and other Western Hemisphere countries.
As part of this initiative, producer Julien Bryan was hired by President Franklin Roosvelt to make a series of films to be shown to students about Latin American and its customs. Clearly, the video attempts to portray Lima as a modern city, rooted in history, with an emerging middle-class and industrial base. The photography and script are by documentarians Jules and Miriam Bucher. Special mention should be made about the music; although no credit is given, it is used dramatically to underscore the film in a very 1950s fashion.
As this video begins, severe music and graphics lead us to the credits. We see where Lima is located in South America, as we listen to a superficial history of Lima's history.
The first city shots are from what looks like the Hotel Bolivar on Plaza San Martin, followed by some nice shots of central Lima streets, transportation, and pedestrians.
We see the 'city on top of the city', the life being led on Lima's rooftops.
A quick cutaway take us to the Plaza de Armas where the camera lingers on the statue of Pizarro.
The narrator is concerned, even as we see historic colonial churches, we understand 'the new Lima is much like other modern cities the world over'.
We then see an interesting cross-section of people displaying devotion to an image of a Virgen outside a Lima church.
Suddenly, we're at the Lima racetrack and viewing 'the leisure class', who are described as 'the present-day representative of the immensely rich aristocracy'.
Middle-class people are also shown at the racetrack, and we hear about how the middle class is small but growing. We see so much of the horsetrack, it makes me wonder if the filmmaker wasn't a betting man himself.
Finally, we're back in central Lima, viewing the colonnaded passages along the Plaza San Martín. We see the old Lima streetcars, while the narrator launches into a long explanation of the tradition of closing down for two hours daily for a long lunch.
Lima Part 1:
Running Time: 5:15
This second part of the film shows Lima waking up from its siesta, with some good shots of random streets and businesses in the center. Then, as the narrator discusses the fact Lima is in an earthquake zone, we see earthquake damaged buildings. There is a plan to 'rebuild the city to withstand the ravages' of earthquakes.
Construction, with 'uncommon enthusiasm', is going on in Lima as see workers raising a multistory building, albeit the old-fashioned way. We see some of the new suburbs, which look like they may be in the Rimac area, close to the hills of eastern Lima.
There is a long segment of a shaved ice vendor with strange musical accompaniment.
We see a restaurant and hear about 'the hearty food of the country: rice, fish, meat, and bread' for about 'five cents in North American money'.
Next, we are whisked to the Hospital Obrero, touted as 'one of the finest in South America'; yet, outside patients buy old bottles to fill in the pharmacy. Inside the hospital we see the 'workers --cabdrivers, construction laborers, waiters, clerks, all these-- and their families' getting care with modern-looking machines.
This segment ends with the narrator discussing changing attitudes to the nursing profession.
Lima Part 2:
Running Time: 5:26
The final part of the film begins by focusing on folk art and the Christmas nacimiento, the traditional Nativity scenes displayed in churches. Then, artist Julia Codesido and her indigenista style paintings are briefly featured.
We ovbserve students taking their oral examinations at San Marcos University, the oldest in South America. The narrator makes it a point to say studying there had been, 'a peregotive of the rich' but now 'young men and women from the less-priviliged areas' go there; in particular, to study engineering and medicine'.
The narrator waxes on Peruvian young people, calling them, 'serious young people; they feel, more than most students, responsibility in the working out of their country's destiny'.
The film ends with another set of graphics detailing Lima's growth from 1750 to 1944. In 1750, Lima was described as, 'A tiny triangle of narrow streets'.
Finally, there are streetscapes of modern Lima (possibly, Paseo de Colón and Parque de la Exposición). The final shot of the film is of the new industry in the still agricultural Rimac Valley.
Lima Part 3: