Thursday, January 27, 2011

Could It Be? - CS Lewis

I guess most people know that I've been searching for some film footage of CS Lewis for several years now. I know both in my heart and my head that it must exist for several reasons. The catch is that any such footage, while rare, would probably be fairly unexciting. If any is found, he would probably just be another face in a crowd at some event at Oxford or Cambridge. I've been mostly searching through various archival footage of "events", "commencement ceremonies", and "graduation ceremonies" at these schools. I think today I may have finally hit pay dirt. The above is a still I've taken from a ceremony at Oxford where various ally leaders from WWII (most notably General Eisenhower) were given honorary degrees. As near as I can tell, this film was made in 1945, or at least NATO's web page lists Eisenhower as having received such a degree that year:

Nato's Eisenhower Page

This still is from low resolution footage from an 8-minute film, but I ask you, does this not look like Lewis' round Irish mug? You'll notice from the collar that he's wearing an Oxford gown. I thought I'd post it here to get a few opinions first before I lay out the money to the film news agency who owns this for higher resolution footage where I'll be able to see his face much better.

To be honest, the more I view the footage, the less I think it's him. The man here seems to almost be a little too bald. His face comes up in the footage several times. There's an extremely good chance though that Lewis and JRR Tolkien both are in this crowd along with Lewis' brother Warnie (all were war vets). Even if they are not, it's fun for me to watch a ceremony where many of their peers and friends must be present, and to see how life was during this time at Oxford. It gives me the feeling of what it was like to almost be with him. You can watch it for yourself here at Pathe Films.

Here's another film Pathe has of the same event which mostly shows the people coming into the hall. It's also much shorter in length: Second Film


Anonymous said...

I wonder if the various colleges always sat in designated spots during ceremonies of this sort? If that were the case and you had a seating plan, then that would make the task somewhat easier. Just a thought.

xthinker88 - at -

C W Seper said...

Good idea. I can't afford the hi-rez footage to find out though. But I sent some messages to people connected with Lewis who might do it. I know he's got to be in there somewhere, and Warnie, being a retired military guy, is probably right next to him. I've spotted at least three faces in the crowd I think could be CSL. Thanks Mark.