The invention of motion picture technology has allowed us to capture and preserve images of historical events that changed the world. As you watch these videos, try to put yourself in the minds of the different groups of people that were there. What do you think they were thinking as they watched these events unfold?
1. Early Powered Flight
Orville and Wilbur Wright are widely credited with achieving the first powered human flight and building the first successful airplane. Though the first powered flight (1903) was not caught on video, the video below depicts one of the Wright Brothers’ early powered flights.
2. Mahatma Gandhi’s Dandi March
This footage shows Gandhi’s infamous salt march. The march took place in March and April of 1930 in protest of the British salt monopoly. Gandhi chose salt as the focus of the protest because it was used daily by nearly everyone in India.
3. Gandhi’s First Recorded Interview
This news reel from 1931 marks the first time that Gandhi was interviewed with the image and sound being recorded. The interview was recorded for Fox Movietone News which played news in American cinemas before the feature film started. (Skip to the one minute mark to avoid the staged beginning.)
4. Atomic Bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki
During the final stage of World War II in 1945, the United States dropped atomic bombs on the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Six days after the Nagasaki bombing, Japan surrendered, effectively ending World War II. The bombings are the only time nuclear weapons have been used in war.
5. India’s Independence Day
The British news reel contains some of the clearest imagery of India’s Independence Day in 1947.
6. U.S. President John F. Kennedy Assassinated
President of the United States John F. Kennedy was assassinated during a parade in Dallas, Texas, United States in 1963. The death of the young, attractive president deeply saddened the public. He remains one of the most popular presidents in American history.
(Warning: This video contains graphic content that may be disturbing to some viewers.)
7. Moon Landing
Neil Armstrong’s first step onto the moon in 1969 was broadcast live to television viewers around the world. He uttered his famous words calling the event “one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind”. Many people who were old enough at the time can still tell you where they were when they watched those first steps.
8. Early Internet Connection
This 1981 video depicts an early version of the internet that allowed those lucky enough to own a home computer to receive the daily news directly on the computer. It took two hours for the newspaper to be delivered electronically and it cost $10USD which was 50x more expensive than the print edition.
9. Tiananmen Square Protest
The famous 1989 image of the “tank man” is known around the world. The unarmed man temporarily stopped a column of advancing tanks the morning after the Chinese military had inflicted casualties on unarmed Chinese civilians. The identity of the man and his fate are both unknown to this day.
10. Berlin Wall Falls
The Berlin Wall divided the German city of Berlin from 1961 to 1989. Berlin residents, both from the East and West, celebrated in 1989 when it was announced that they were finally free to cross to the other side of their city. The fall of the wall partially marked the end of the Cold War.
11. September 11, 2001 Terrorist Attacks
When the first plane crashed into the World Trade Center in New York City, it was not clear whether the crash was an accident or something else. On live television, a second plane struck the second tower, confirming that America was under attack.
This second 9/11 video was filmed from a university residence by students who were awoken by the first plane hitting the World Trade Center. They can be heard speculating about the first crash when the second plane hits the second tower. This video is rare in the sense that it captures the human emotions when the second plane hit.
(Warning: This video contains disturbing images and adult language.)
12. Launching India’s Mars Orbiter
India’s Mars Orbiter Mission launched in 2013 marked the first time a nation made it to Mars on its first attempt. Remarkably, sending the orbiter to Mars cost India less money than it cost to make the American film “Gravity”.