“Mystery films” shown in Voss Norway
A public viewing of film reels left unclaimed for 36 years was somewhat anticlimactic
A few years ago, Voss artist Kjell-Erik Ruud came into possession of a package containing three film reels that an American named David Jon Long sent to himself at a local hotel in 1980 but never claimed.
Ruud decided to show the contents of the film at a public showing without knowing much of anything about their contents. “The worst-case scenario is that the footage is pornographic,” he joked to NRK.
Ruud’s attempts to track Long down proved unsuccessful for years, though he was able to discover that the American had once lived in Voss and worked at the now-closed Hotel Jarl. But on the night before the showing, an email from Long landed in Ruud’s inbox telling him that the films primarily contained ski footage, somewhat killing the mystery surrounding the public showing.
Long said he had visited several ski resorts in the U.S. and acquired footage that he hoped to use to show Norwegians how Americans viewed skiing. He had planned to return to Norway but his mother fell ill so he remained in the States longer than expected and eventually forgot all about the film reels.
Although Ruud’s quest to track down Long succeeded at the last minute, his showing of the films went ahead as planned. An audience of around 20 people watched the footage, and even without the mystique Ruud said it was a fun experience.
“I was really excited. It was a pleasure to see film from the 70s with the nice clothes and music that remain stuck in my head,” he told NRK.
Ruud posted a clip of one of the films, entitled Spirit of the West, on Instagram and it resembled a classic 70s Western.
He said he wasn’t disappointed that Long revealed the film’s contents before show time. “It couldn’t have happened any other way and it was a very fine experience,” he said.
And thus ended a 36-year-old mystery that stretched from Voss to Long’s former home in Wisconsin.
This article was originally published on The Local.
It also appeared in the Feb. 19, 2016, issue of the Norwegian American Weekly. To subscribe, visit SUBSCRIBE or call us at (206) 784-4617.