Welkom in Amsterdam… 1922.
For the last six months, he’s been applying himself to re-rendering documentary footage of city life—Belle Epoque Paris, Tokyo at the start of the the Taishō era, and New York City in 1911—the year of the Triangle Shirtwaist Fire.
It’s possible you’ve seen the footage before, but never so alive in feel. Shiryaev’s renderings trick modern eyes with artificial intelligence, boosting the original frames-per-second rate and resolution, stabilizing and adding color—not necessarily historically accurate.
The herky-jerky bustling quality of the black-and-white originals is transformed into something fuller and more fluid, making the human subjects seem… well, more human.
This Trip Through the Streets of Amsterdam is truly a blast from the past… the antithesis of the social distancing we must currently practice.
Merry citizens jostle shoulder to shoulder, unmasked, snacking, dancing, arms slung around each other… unabashedly curious about the hand-cranked camera turned on them as they go about their business.
A group of women visiting outside a shop laugh and scatter—clearly they weren’t expecting to be filmed in their aprons.
Young boys looking to steal the show push their way to the front, cutting capers and throwing mock punches.
Sorry, lads, the award for Most Memorable Performance by a Juvenile goes to the small fellow at the 4:10 mark. He’s not hamming it up at all, merely taking a quick puff of his cigarette while running alongside a crowd of men on bikes, determined to keep pace with the camera person.
Numerous YouTube viewers have observed with some wonder that all the people who appear, with the distant exception of a baby or two at the end, would be in the grave by now.
They do seem so alive.
Modern eyes should also take note of the absences: no cars, no plastic, no cell phones…
And, of course, everyone is white. The Netherlands’ population would not diversify racially for another couple of decades, beginning with immigrants from Indonesia after WWII and Surinam in the 50s.
With regard to that, please be forewarned that not all of the YouTube comments have to do with cheeky little boys and babies who would be pushing 100…
See more of Denis Shiryaev’s upscaled vintage footage in the links below.