BART is looking for help solving a cinematic mystery that’s been pestering the Library of Congress for a year and a half now.
The crux of the conundrum is this single image, possibly taken from an unidentified film or possibly used as a promotional photo for a film. Although it seems impossible to imagine that anyone who has seen whatever this movie is could possibly forget it, thus far no one in the world has been able to positively identify its origin.
The Library of Congress (LOC) featured this mystery pic in a 2016 blog titled “Unknown Horrors.”
Pop culture historian Cary O’Dell notes that the LOC has “well more than a million publicity stills” in its archives, many of which it can no longer positively identify. Now and then O’Dell takes to the LOC blog to ask for help identifying mystery images, often with success. But this image has remained nameless since September of 2016.
O’Dell first proposed that it might be a French film, presumably shot in the Paris Metro, but the presence of the oncoming BART train and tile platform is enough for any Bay Area native to immediately identify the real setting.
“We’re sure it’s either 16th or 24th Street” BART spokesperson Alicia Trost tells Curbed SF, though nobody has yet been able to narrow it down. “Several years ago someone reached out to us about it and I called around and showed it to a lot of people but came up with nothing.”
Film historian Scott Jordan Harris reignited the investigation when he posted the image to Twitter last week.
Despite dozens of replies and hundreds of retweets nobody has put a name to the faces yet, although hypotheses abound: a student film? A music video? A phony publicity photo for a non-existent movie, created as a prop or for an art project?
No film permits exist for whatever it was. BART themselves have posed the question via Reddit and Instagram without success, and none of the agency’s longtime employees recognize it.
Does anyone out there know? If so, a large number of cinephiles want to hear from you. If only because it seems like a crime if no one is watching whatever this was.
- Unknown Horrors [Library of Congress]
- Scott Jordan Harris [Twitter]