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How to Find the Age of Your Home Movie

Have you got a box of cine films tucked away in the corner of your attic? Home movies from your childhood that you, your parents, maybe even your grandparents shot on their old handheld camera. Reels of film containing footage of parties, holidays, weddings – events that have perhaps faded from memory.

Or maybe you have films stored in an archive that need to be catalogued and put into some form of chronology.

So, how do we put a date on these cine films?

Unlike modern digital camcorders or devices an old cine home movie won’t have any inbuilt date and time reader to give you an accurate record of when the film was shot.

Therefore, when it comes to trying to date a home cine film then you need to apply a little bit of detective work and piece together the clues to give you an approximate date or period in which the movie was made.

What format is the film?

Finding out the format of the cine film is a good starting point when narrowing down the date a particular era.

  • Is it colour or black & white
  • What the size is the film?

So, having ascertained the answers to the above, how can it help?

Black & White Film

  • 9.5mm is a format available from 1922 onwards
  • 16mm has been available from 1923 onwards
  • Standard 8 film available between 1932 & 1965

Colour Film

  • 16mm and 9.5 mm available from 1930 onwards
  • Standard 8 available pre-war through to approximately 1965
  • Super 8 & Single 8 available from 1965 onwards

Use the images of the film to help you

Another way in which to get an idea of the period a home cine movie was shot is to watch the film itself to find clues from what you see.

What fashions are on display – fashion and clothing is always a fairly good indicator of when a film was made, be it bell-bottom flares or double-breasted suits.

Is there a car or form of technology evident – Cars can be very accurate as they can often closely represent their era through both model, style and of course registration number. Similarly you may note certain gadgets or technology present: a gramophone, a certain style of telephone, a Betamax video even!

You might not be able to get the date down to a particular day, month or even year in some cases, but piece together the clues on display and more often than not you can get a reasonable estimate of date on most home cine films.