PARSONS, Kan. — An unlikely pilgrimage is under way to Dwayne’s Photo, a small family business that has through luck and persistence become the last processor in the world of Kodachrome, the first successful color film and still the most beloved.
That’s the opening paragraph to the New York Times article, For Kodachrome Fans, Road Ends at Photo Lab in Kansas, by A. G. Sulzberger, the story that inspired the film ‘Kodachrome’. And it couldn’t be more perfect, because Kodachrome is perhaps the iconic film.
This was in 2010, when for a few weeks before closing, Dwayne’s Photo became the Mecca of film nostalgia, with thousands of packages and probably as many Kodachrome devotees making the pilgrimage to the place of the last processor of Kodachrome film. The new movie, ‘Kodachrome’ that’s just debuted at the Toronto Film Festival, starring Ed Harris, Jason Sudeikis, and Elizabeth Olsen, is about one such pilgrimage. It airs on Netflix April 20th.
And before you ask, Dwayne’s really was the last lab on Earth to process the film, and they still processes a variety of film types that are no longer being manufactured, including Disc and 126 films, according to their site.
For those that aren’t aware, Kodachrome was notoriously difficult to process, and as such the prices reflected that, especially compared to newer transparency films like Ektachrome. In fact, for many years it was sold ‘process-paid’. And while expensive, the results could bring tears to your eyes, and Kodachrome users often speak about it in the way one speaks about ‘glory days’ and young love with a glint in the eye.
Among those would be Steve McCurry, who essentially built his career using the film and famously was given the very last roll of Kodachrome to come off the assembly line to shoot. And again, this would be the last roll to be produced. While you can still find rolls on eBay, and while Kodak horribly taunted us last year with news they could be brining it back, they later conceded we shouldn’t hold our breath, effectively cementing Kodachrome to the annals of history.
You can check out the trailer for the movie below, and below that I’ve included a video about McCurry shooting that very last roll.