UW News

October 22, 2009

A recliner on wheels: Help identify this week’s Lost and Found Film

Editor’s Note: The UW Audio Visual Services Materials Library has more than 1,200 reels of film from the late 1940s through the early 1970s, documenting life at the University through telecourses, commercial films and original productions. Some of the short films are easily identifiable, but many more remain mysteries. Who shot these films and why? Can you help answer those questions? Faculty and staff can use the comments field at the end of the story to send ideas. Those outside the University can e-mail filmarc@u.washington.edu.

This week’s film features a power recliner on wheels. But before you conjure up visions of yourself wheeling from living room to kitchen during the big game, all while reclined in your easy chair, take a look — this recliner is a wheelchair.

The silent film, which was made in about 1971 and runs for just under two minutes, opens with a group of men huddled over some drawings on a table. After that we see a two-dimensional model of how the chair will move from an upright to a reclining position. Then, someone is working on the chair — first with a hacksaw and then with a welding tool.

Finally we have a man wheeling around in the finished product. After a cue by a man in a labcoat, he pulls a lever and the wheelchair reclines. The final scene shows him moving down the hall in the wheelchair.

UW Film Archives Specialist Hannah Palin would like to know:

  • Which department is working on the design and creation of this wheelchair?
  • Was the wheelchair ever produced or put into use?
  • Who are the people in the film?
  •  Why was this film taken and how was it used?

Last week’s film featured an art professor named Edward Praczukowski, and Palin received a call from the professor himself, who retired from the University in 1991 after 30 years of teaching. Praczukowski remembered the film, though he couldn’t recall who made it or why. He said he is still painting and enjoying getting lost in his art.