Directed by: Chris Esper
Written by: -
Genre: Documentary / Short
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Here's something a little different. Something that is more than a collection of its parts. Chris Esper's short title, Yesteryear could, and should, be considered nothing more than a mere clip show of random people living their lives. Caught on camera for posterity; home movies that friends and family dread having to witness during special events and celebrations. Those old VHS and BETAMAX tapes Uncle John has stashed away in a box under another box in the basement. This was what I expected walking into this title and although I was partly correct, I was also so wrong.
There's a charm to Yesteryear that is unmistakable, a warm feeling you get as you plummet through hordes of old footage in no particular order. The years, the people, the occasions have no discernable meaning to the average person. The timeline or any narration is absent, but for some reason when you actually watch this film it all makes perfect sense. Chris Esper and his vision are crystal clear. Yesteryear is comfort food for the soul of anyone born before the mid 2000s. But even if you were born after, there's still something cool to watch here. A snapshot of life at the dawn of the age of gaming, and before. A time when things were fixed, not thrown out, and replaced. A time when families spent time together, and a knock on the front door was welcomed.
I can't help but wonder if this short title is a product of the current (2020) quarantine/isolation. A way for Chris Esper to continue to fan his creative flames when conventional filming was impossible; but if so, it really doesn't matter. Mission accomplished and a toast to a job well done. It's undeniable that the charm of this title lay within the editing style, and choice of footage used. As Yesteryear gently glides across your screen, it's so damn easy to get lost within your own thoughts. I watched this film twice, because I found I couldn't remember much the first time around. I was lost in thought, and that's what this film seemed to do to me. Allow my mind to wander, much like an old familiar song. That's meant as a compliment because it wouldn't have been possible if Yesteryear were presented any other way. I believe this phenomenon is the one thread of consistency that holds this title in place. It's ability to get you thinking, get you remembering.
4 stars you ask? For sure. The run time feels perfect, the clips all work, and that charm I spoke of simply can't be dismissed. Yesteryear is a unique title that scores its points for allowing the person in front of the screen, to somewhat form their own story. All while taking a trip down memory lane. Excellent work Mr. Esper.