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Kristi McGuire of the University of Chicago Press’s Chicago Blog has posted a short essay “Disneyland Dream and utopian home movies,” centered around Robbins’ Barstow’s “Disneyland Dream.”
In 1936, the same year that he filmed Tarzan and the Rocky Gorge, a 16 year old Robbins Barstow joined his brother and five other boys on a journey of nearly 8,000 miles from Hartford, Connecticut to Montana and back. Led by a Hartford Seminary graduate student, the boys crossed 14 states and into Canada, camping along the way.
Before his death last year Robbins had the film, which he title The Adventure of the Galloping Geese, transferred to videotape, though sadly it is lacking his trademark narration.
New York Times columnist Frank Rich based his Christmas column “Who Killed the Disneyland Dream?” around Robbins Barstow’s Disneyland Dream, using it as a symbolic representation of American middle class life in the 1950s.
Source: New York Times
- The New York Times published a very nice obituary by Margalit Fox.
- The Barstow family has posted video of Robbin’s memorial service, held at the at First Church of Christ in Wethersfield, Connecticut, on November 13, 2010.
- The Hartford Courant has posted a bio of Robbins in their “Extraordinary Life” column.
Robbins Barstow’s family has written to say that Robbins died at his home in Wethersfield, Connecticut on Sunday, two weeks after his 91st birthday.
Robbins joined the Amateur Cinema League in the 1930s and made one of his most famous films (and one of the very first fan films), Tarzan and the Rocky Gorge in 1936. His other masterpiece, 1956′s Disneyland Dream, about winning a trip with his family to the newly-opened Disneyland park, was named to the National Film Registry in 2008.
One of the most unique things about Robbins was the way in which he kept his films alive for decades after their creation. He edited his 16mm films then transferred them to video at the Wethersfield public access TV station (which he helped to create), adding his own narration. He distributed his films first on VHS, then DVD, and then finally on the Internet Archive. After learning about Archive.org he leaped into digital realm with both feet, and uploaded nearly all of “Barstow Travel Adventure” films. He then eagerly watched as their popularity took off among the younger generations. Disneyland Dream and Tarzan and the Rocky Gorge both went viral, and currently have 76,000 and 151,000 downloads respectively. Last year he also began selling Disneyland Dream through Amazon’s DVD-R program.
Although the film world got to know Robbins through his movies, he also worked as the director of professional development for the Connecticut Educational Association. He was also a founder of the Cetacean Society International, and many of his Barstow Travel Adventures as well as the 1970s sequel to Tarzan and the Rocky Gorge focused on his love for the great whales.
The Barstow family has asked that in lieu of flowers, checks be made out to:
CSI (Barstow Fund)
Mrs. Barbara Kilpatrick
15 Wood Pond Rd.
West Hartford, CT 06107
See also the excellent essay on Robbins and Disneyland Dream from Daniel Eagan’s “America’s Film Legacy”
2008 Home Movie Day PSA, featuring Robbins:
Remix of Family Camping Through 48 States – Part I by Captive Wild Woman
Since Home & Amateur has practically become the unofficial Robbins Barstow blog, we are pleased to report that Robbins sends word that for the first time ever his award winning film Disneyland Dream is available for sale on DVD-R directly from Amazon. The DVD includes the film classic as well as a 20 minute special feature “The Making of Disneyland Dream.”
Cory Doctorow’s BoingBoing post about the release.
The Captive Wild Woman herself is at it again, this time remixing our favorite filmmaker as the Barstow family travels around New England. Robbins Barstow and Jonathan Richman…together at last.
The original, Family Camping Through 48 States–Part I, is available at Archive.org.
The new book America’s Film Legacy: The Authoritative Guide to the Landmark Movies in the National Film Registry by Daniel Eagan includes essays on the first 500 films named to the National Film Registry. Publisher 33 1/3 included the essay about Robbins Barstow’s Disneyland Dream in its entirety on its blog.
America’s adoration of filmmaker Robbins Barstow continues, with a feature article about him and his filmmaking career, in a feature article in the Waterbury Connecticut Republican-American.
Today is everybody’s favorite amateur filmmaker Robbins Barstow’s 90th birthday, and in tribute, the governor of Connecticut (Robbins’s home state) has decreed this to be Dr. Robbins Barstow Day!
“Whereas, in tribute to his lifelong brilliance as an amateur filmmaker, ten of Dr. Barstow’s family chronicles have been registered by the Library of Congress, and his 1955 “Disneyland Dreams” [sic] (featuring a cameo by then-teen actor-comedian Steve Martin) has been named to the National Film Registry as one of the finest examples of the home movie-making genre.”