I was fortunate recently to score a link to an advanced screening of the new documentary film that chronicles the long and storied history of Airstream. The film is set for its world premiere in September.
The film, titled “Alumination,” begins with tales from the challenging life of Airstream founder Wally Byam, and gives a fascinating, behind-the-scenes look at the iconic trailer and its black-beret-wearing creator through a wonderful array of historical footage. But it also addresses the ups and downs of a company that has roots in the 1930s and includes plenty of interesting cameos with a cast of characters that own and love the brand.
The film does an admirable job of explaining what it is that makes every Airstream out there “one of a kind.” There’s still no other recreational vehicle that can match Airstream’s status, with its faithful cadre of Wally Byam Caravan Club disciples traipsing across the globe to hundreds of rallies each year.
Those of you who either own or have owned an Airstream already get it. You know you are part of this elite, insider family that has found a way to take the outdoor lifestyle to the stratosphere. Longtime Airstream aficionados will love this film. But it’s obvious that the filmmakers were really targeting the rest of us – the uninitiated masses who have never pulled a riveted trailer.
Anyone who has made an RV a part of their lives will find themselves nodding their heads as the filmmakers speak to the benefits of the RVing lifestyle. Yet as they roll through the decades documenting Airstream’s ups and downs, you’ll notice an almost cult-like quality to those who tear up as they talk about those shiny aluminum trailers.
The film is wonderfully put together. I won’t call it riveting. That’s too easy. It doesn’t come off – at all – as a straight-up promotional piece for Airstream. It covers that base, of course, but there’s much more included here as you watch those in love with Airstream take varied tacks to try to explain why they feel so deeply about an RV brand that is far from the most prolific – just the most admired.
I don’t think I’ve ever met a former Airstream owner who left the brand for another.
Viewed in total, this hour-and-fifteen-minute film is well worth a look, even if an Airstream isn’t in your future. It peels back a shiny layer and shows us how Airstream fits into the fabric of America. After watching the documentary, you’ll have a better understanding of why it has such a unique hold on almost every American, even if you’ve never spent a night in one.
You can find out more about the film “Alumination” at www.aluminationmovie.com. If you can gather 24 of your friends, you can even sign up to host a screening of your own.