Why Should Films Be Restored?
Film is easily made vulnerable. It’s a micrometer-thin layer of light sensitivity on a support of synthetic material. It’s not tearproof, but is occasionally flammable. During use it can quickly break down. The more popular the film, the more often it runs through a projector and the faster scratches, dirt, improper repairs and splices appear on the screen.
Film is often regarded as an unwanted commodity whose contents must be suppressed. Sometimes the producer is aghast when confronted with the audacity or daring of a director and demands cuts. If the scissors in one’s own head are not effective, then those of others may threaten post-production. Political censorship, moral indignation and commercial interests can all leave lasting gaps in cinematic works. These effects can only be countered or reversed by resorting to the original negative or to preserved copies of more complete versions.
As a result, film restoration manifests itself in two different ways: as technical intervention for the improvement of the picture quality and as editorial intervention wherever necessary.
The world’s film archives work together to make restorations possible through the exchange of information and materials. On the following pages, we use case studies to report on some of the films whose restored versions we distribute.