’s three-part film for television, , first transmitted by the BBC in 1999 and later shown on PBS’s , goes much further than any of these examples. If you love photography and you haven’t seen it, then this is a film you need in your life. For 194 minutes, Shooting the Past dwells on the often ineffable mystery, beauty and power of the static photograph. It’s a film that haunts the memory for years, and masterpiece is the right word.
There are two bravura sequences where Marilyn Truman attempts to convince Anderson of the value of the collection and make him change his plans by overwhelming him with previously concealed narratives pieced together through Bates’s remarkable visual memory and ability as a picture researcher. Each story is told entirely with photos, in the style of La Jetée, except that Shooting the Past mixes together real archival pictures, new photos shot to look like archival pictures, and -like montages made by inserting new elements into old pictures.
The truth, in fact, is that you can shoot the past in any way you please. An equal, and arguably even more important, truth is that you will get the best pictures if you think beforehand about what effect you want to create.