The Last Picture Show
By: Steven Heller | July 26, 2010
Kodachrome is dead! Long live Kodachrome!
I wasn’t alive the first time it was sold to the public, but I own a set of slides taken at the 1939 World’s Fair, where Kodak made its stunningly crisp film available to one and all.
Kodak announced last year that it would retire Kodachrome, the popular color-reversal film it had manufactured since 1935. Last week, the last roll of Kodachrome came out of a laboratory in Parsons, Kansas. Kodachrome requires complex processing that cannot be done by mere amateurs and the one processor still in business will close its lab this December.
Although others may have unexposed rolls, Steve McCurry, well-known for his 1984 photograph of Sharbat Gula, or the “Afghan Girl,” published on the cover of National Geographic magazine, asked Kodak to be allowed to shoot the last roll of 36 frames it manufactured. (Listen to McCurry on NPR here.)
According to The Vancouver Sun:
“National Geographic has closely documented the journey of that last roll, down to its being processed. Dwayne’s is the only photo lab left in the world to handle Kodachrome processing, so National Geographic Television producer Yvonne Russo and National Geographic magazine senior video producer Hans Weise found themselves in Parsons earlier this month, along with McCurry, with the final roll of the iconic film of the 20th century. As a professional freelance photographer, McCurry has used Kodachrome film for 35 years.”
The Huffington Post notes in an “Elegy for Kodachrome;”
“Kodachrome is part of our history, part of the fabric of our culture, still vividly coloring the dreams of our collective memory. But it is gone from our life.”
Kodachrome is dead! Long live digital photography!
Still, I wonder what will be the next revolution?