The Sid Saga (1985-2003)

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TCM gave me another surprise not long ago by showing something I didn’t expect. They labeled it as The Sid Saga, but it was actually a little bit more than that.

The Sid Saga is the personal story of Sid Laverents, an amateur filmmaker who didn’t pick up the hobby until he was 50 years old. He started out by filming everything from his travels, to garden snails, and then experimented with manipulating the sound and picture with in-camera editing techniques.

The Sid Saga is a four-part story about his life, his own self-made documentary. He started the project in 1985 and didn’t finish it until 2003 when he was 95 years old.

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The man worked til the end

TCM only showed the first 3 parts of The Sid Saga. It starts with his birth in 1908 and chronicles the events of his life up until 1986, covering everything from the Great Depression, his life on the road during his vaudeville act, two World Wars, the marriage to his third wife, and how he got into film.

All three parts contained a combination of drawings, animation, and photography…

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Snazzy costume, Sid.

And it was all done and pieced together by Sid himself, using pre-digital editing techniques.

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Seeing what he put together was really fascinating to watch. It was kind of refreshing to watch something so well pieced together without the use of any CGI. It didn’t occur to me until later that I’d just sat through an hour and a half of one man’s life story. This is how you wished all your grandparents could have relayed to you their life story, instead of, you know, reverting to, “You have no idea how easy you have it….” And then regaling you about how they had to trudge to school through 5 feet of snow… uphill…. both ways.

TCM also showed one of Sid’s short films, Multiple SIDosis. This film was added to the National Film Registry in 2000, when Sid was 92 and was only the second amateur film to be added to the registry. In it Sid plays Felix Arndt’s “Nola” on multiple instruments, including an ocarina (game reference!)

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The ocarina is in the yellow frames. Sorry it’s such a pain to see.

Some of you have probably seen similar things up on Youtube, but Sid’s got the upper hand here. He filmed his version in 1970.

If you like documentaries or amateur film than The Sid Saga is a must view, if only so that you can see what one person can pull off with film by themselves.

I would highly suggest, however, that everyone watch Multiple SIDosis. It’s a short film, only a little over 9 minutes, but highly entertaining, especially if you enjoy music, though I apologize that the quality is less than ideal.

As far as I can tell, The Sid Saga is, unfortunately, not commercially available.

Michi

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