Have you ever been to a historic site, maybe a battle site, squinted your eyes and wondered just what it was like – tried to imagine the players on that historic day? Or have you ever walked down a street and thought: hmm, I’ve seen this before only to realize that you had seen that particular location on TV or in a movie?
Photographer Christopher Moloney has exquisitely captured this magic for us in his photoessay, “Now & Then.” What Moloney has done is sought out the places of our cinematic dreams, armed with his camera and with black and white stills from great movies. Once the location is found, he holds the photograph as closely as possible in alignment with the scene, which, of course, means that he is finding the original camera angle and takes the picture. There are some tricky technical aspects to this, most significantly getting the depth of field that he needs to keep both backdrop and photograph in focus.
Artistically, the holding hand is a wonderful touch. So is the juxtaposition of black and white photograph against colored modern backdrop. Even someone with as limited a knowledge of movies as myself will recognize almost all of the films.
So many of these pictures strike home that it is difficult to choose a favorite. Mia Farrow in “Rosemary’s Baby” (1968) at 50th Street and Sixth Avenue in New York City raises an immediate sense of terror and dread and who doesn’t love Audrey Hepburn in “Breakfast at Tiffany’s” (1961) – window-shopping at a Tiffany & Co. also in New York City. It’s not unusual to see actor/director Woody Allen on the streets of New York City. So encountering a younger Woody with Diane Keeton in ‘Annie Hall’ (1977) along 68th Street in New York City is only a step backwards in time. But a favorite? – well I’ll give you a hint: “Who you gonna call,” when the ectoplasmic index of your apartment reaches Old Testament proportions and Sumerian goddesses threaten the block?