Surely you remember Cheers, if only from the sitcom’s syndicated reruns ceaselessly aired around the world. And if you remember Cheers, you’ll remember no part of it more vividly than its opening credits sequence, which broke from the well-established tradition of showing the faces of the series’ cast members.
Instead, writes Stephen Cole at Fonts in Use, the studio charged with creating the sequence “collected archival illustrations and photographs of bar life, culled from books, private collections, and historical societies. They hand-tinted the images and paired them with typography inspired by a turn-of-the-century aesthetic.”
As fondly as we remember their work, the art of bringing turn-of-the-century photos to life has come a long way indeed since Cheers debuted in 1982. Take, for instance, the short above: The Old New World by Russian photographer and animator Alexey Zakharov, who in just over three and a half minutes takes us right back to early-1900s America. “The photos show New York, Boston, Detroit, Washington, D.C., and Baltimore between 1900 and 1940, and were obtained from the website Shorpy,” writes Petapixel’s Michael Zhang, quoting Zakharov’s own description of the work as a “photo-based animation project” as well as a chance to “travel back in time with a little steampunk time machine.”
You can see a gallery of more of the materials that went into The Old New World at Behance. Just as those Cheers opening credits evoked the conviviality of old-time tavern culture, Zakharov’s film evokes what it meant — or at least, to all of us currently alive and thus without any living memory of that era, what we think it meant — to live in the headiest cities going in the headiest country going, places whose booming industry and culture held out seemingly infinite promise, even on quiet days.
Should Netflix picks Cheers as their next beloved sitcom to revive, they might consider going to Zakharov for a new title sequence. He’s certainly got all the pictures of Boston he’d need.
Based in Seoul, Colin Marshall writes and broadcasts on cities, language, and style. He’s at work on a book about Los Angeles, A Los Angeles Primer, the video series The City in Cinema, the crowdfunded journalism project Where Is the City of the Future?, and the Los Angeles Review of Books’ Korea Blog. Follow him on Twitter at @colinmarshall or on Facebook.