The “Sunshine” story

When I was a kid, my mom had a copy of a paperback called “Sunshine”, a true story about a young mother who was diagnosed with terminal cancer. The book was based on her own tape-recorded diary which she kept during the time that she was fighting her battle with the illness – a battle she ultimately lost. I had never read more than a bit of the book, but a few years ago, I was browsing in a thrift store when what should turn up but the soundtrack album for “Sunshine” – a made-for-TV movie which had been made from the book. I just had to buy it. It featured the songs of John Denver and just seemed like a neat 70’s artifact.

Flash forward to 2005, and someone is looking for info on a movie her grandmother saw, called “Sunshine Christmas”. With my reputation as an internet bloodhound, I'm asked if I could track down any info about this movie and/or find a copy.

Well, I managed to do both. It turned out that “Sunshine Christmas” was a made-for-TV sequel to that original “Sunshine” film. I even found someone online who was able to make a copy of both films on DVD. My girlfriends' friend's grandmother was going to be one happy lady.

Viewing the film, I was delighted to discover that much of it was shot right here in my home town of Vancouver! I easily recognized several local spots doubling for the story's Washington State settings, looking relatively unchanged after over 30 years. I've moved countless times and lived in cities from Montreal to Oakland, and finally back to Vancouver (to stay, I think) over those years, but the filming was done during the time me and my family lived here in Vancouver. So it added something of a personal connection to things.

So, late in 2005, I decided to seek out some of the locations and do a “then and now” photo comparison – the Vancouver of 1972 compared with that of today. It took until June 2006 to finally fill in the missing pictures (I needed rooftop access to an apartment building in Kitsilano, which was very kindly granted to me). What follows is my collection of before-and-after views. Note that you can click on any picture for an enlargement. Happy time-travelling!

View the gallery

This project is a feature of the adam abrams website!

“Sunshine” at the Internet Movie Database

Buy "Sunshine":

It still doesn't have an official DVD release, but there are in fact several places online where you can buy a taped-off-broadcast copy. As of 2009, that's the only way to see these films, so if you're interested, I do suggest this method. Here's where to get a copy: