Director Chris Esper, who in the past has shared his short film “Bent” with us, has given us a view of his new one, Yesteryear, which is a nostalgic look at the importance of home movies.
As Esper himself has said, “this is a visual piece about home movies and their value”. Esper has dug into the archives, his own and those of others, and pulled out home movies on a range of topics.
From birthdays to Christmas, parties to holidays and all in between, the home movies span centuries as well, showcasing changing styles, quality and subjects.
The first half of the short is perhaps the most successful, it brings about a surprising amount of nostalgia. I say surprising because you don’t know these people, I don’t even know the places, but you’re acutely aware you are looking in on someone’s life at a certain time.
Seeing these people celebrating together, having fun with the score Esper has chosen over the top, is moving. Seeing children unwrap their Christmas presents, the excitement that it brought them, was a reminder of my own childhood.
The only criticism I would say against Yesteryear is that, at nearly 14 minutes, it runs a touch long, though perhaps this was more about the ‘groupings’ that Esper has created.
The first half or two thirds we see the home movies grouped into birthdays, Christmas etc whereas the latter third feels a bit more of a mix of subjects and it doesn’t quite grab you the same way.
That aside, Yesteryear is a beautifully put together short film for lockdown, one that I wasn’t expecting to be quite as moving as it was.