A lost film is a long or a short film of cinema that no longer exists in any archive in any studio or whether we can not find in any private collection. The term “lost film” is also used in the literal sense to refer to films in which certain scenes or sequences have been lost, unedited or whose alternative versions have been misplaced.
Sometimes a copy of a “lost film” is found; these copies are then listed under the name of Lazare films [ref. necessary] . A film that has not been found in its entirety is called a “partially lost film”.
The reasons for the loss of a film
Most of the lost films are silent films or films from the early years of talking cinema , from the years 1894 to 1930 about 1 . Martin Scorsese’s Film Preservation Foundation estimates that 80% of films from this era are lost.
Many films from the early days of cinema have been lost because of the presence of nitrate , particularly unstable and flammable, in cinematographic photographic film. The fire thus destroyed an entire archive of films; for example, a storage chamber fire in 1937 destroyed all the original negatives of Twentieth Century Fox footage shot before 1935 2 . In addition, the film may be deteriorated rapidly if it is not preserved in a controlled temperature and humidity.
But the most widespread cause of the loss of silent films was intentional destruction, since silent films had little or no commercial value after the end of the silent era in 1930 . Conservative Robert A. Harris said:
“Most early films did not survive because of the mass sale of the studios. There was no reason to save these films. They just needed a vault, but the equipment was expensive at the time for studios 3 . “
Many of Warner Bros.’s early films and First National were lost because they used the sound on disk method , which used separate recordings on a special phonograph . These recordings were often lost or misplaced, making the reel worthless, “a mute imprint”, and therefore they were discarded. This changed in 1930 , when these studios converted to film sound .
Before the era of home video and television , movies were considered of little value after their loss of success in the cinema. Thus, many films were deliberately destroyed by the studios in the name of saving space. Many old Technicolor two-color negatives of the 1920s and 1930s were thrown in for the same purpose of making room, when the studios refused to take back their films, which were then in the coffers of Technicolor. Many films were recycled in order to recover the moneycontained in the films. Some prints were sold intact or broken into pieces to people who had acquired private projection devices and wanted to have scenes from their favorite movies to show to their entourage.
In order to preserve the nitrate-based films, they were copied on cellulose-based or digital rescue films , however the cellulose option is more popular than the digital option in the archival community because of its longevity proven and its resemblance to the original form.
Hence the case of Theda Bara : Of the 40 films she has made, only three and a half have survived. More typical, the case of Clara Bow ; of his 57 films, 20 are completely lost and 5 are incomplete 4 .
There are occasional exceptions: all of Charlie Chaplin’s films survived, as well as a number of unused footage from 1914 , except A Woman of the Sea (which he himself destroyed) and one of his first films with Keystone, Her Friend the Bandit .
Movies lost after 1950
The 35mm backup film format was introduced in 1949 . This format was much more stable than the previous nitrate film and the proof was that very few films were lost after the 1950s . However, some colors disappeared and the vinegar syndrome threatened the film.
Most of the major films of the 1950s have survived to this day, apart from some of the first pornographic movies and some B series that were lost. In most cases these obscure films remain completely unknown, but some films of recognized directors have also been lost. Here are a few :
- Ecstasies of Women and Linda and Abilene by Herschell Gordon Lewis released in 1969 .
- The Undergraduate , by Ed Wood ( 1972 ), as did Take It Out In Trade by the same director ( 1970 ), of which there are only a few fragments left without sound. It was believed for years that Necromania from 1971 , still Ed Wood , was lost until an edited version resurfaced in a flea market in 1992 , then a completely new copy followed in 2001 5 . A complete copy of a previous pornographic film by Ed D. Wood Jr., The Young Marrieds was found in 2004 .
- The Noble Experiment of 1955 , Tom Graeff’s first film , is considered lost. In this film Tom Graeff endorses the labels of director, author and actor since he plays a scientist with misunderstood genius.
- The majority of the first films of Andy Milligan (in) are also considered lost.
- Many films made for education, training, or religious purposes from the 1940s to the 1970s were also lost, as they were considered disposable or improvable.
Some versions (black and white / color, with or without sound, etc.) of most recent movies may be lost as well. The first color films, such as The Mysterious Island of Lucien Hubbard ( The Mysterious Island ) in 1929 and The Show of Shows of John G. Adolfi , exist only in part or not at all in color because the remaining copies were made in black and white for archives. Two films in 3-D in 1954 , Top Banana and Southern Passage exist only in their 2-D forms because only one copy was made instead of one copy for each eye as it should be.
Many important films from the silent film era , films featuring famous actors, films with creative talent, exist in a single copy in museums and private collections. These are movies that have never been copied, digitized or preserved in any way.
Movies whose soundtrack has been lost
Some films produced with the sound system on disk as with the Vitaphone , where the discs were separated from the film, are now considered lost because the discs are damaged or destroyed, while the film is not. Several surviving Vitaphone films exist by image only, while the soundtrack is lost while others have only seen their record survive, without the film.
Several stereophonic recordings of the mid -1950s were played by interlocking on a 35mm magnetic reel or a single magnetic tape (such as Fox’s four-track tape, which became the standard of the stereophonic soundtrack). present lost. Films such as House of Wax 6 ( House of Wax ) The Caddy , War of the Worlds ( The War of the Worlds ), The 5,000 Fingers of D r T and From Here to Eternity ( From Here to Eternity) that were originally recorded on three-track tapes, now have their magnetic sound usable only on monophonic optical tracks. All the chemistry inherent in the magnetic practice applied to the triacetate- based film was the effective cause of the decline of the autocatalyticfilm (“vinegar syndrome”). As long as the studios used a monophonic optical negative that could be impressed, the executive studios did not feel the need to preserve stereophonic versions of the soundtracks .
Films unfit for marketing
The term “lost film” was also mistakenly applied to films that survived in their entirety, but were never presented to the public in formats such as VHS and DVD , and in some cases, never before broadcast on television (few of them are available under bootlegs of varying quality):
- Captive , a production of the MGM of 1932 , with Joan Crawford , Robert Montgomery and Nils Asther is no longer available for an injunction in federal court of the United Stateswho said that the script used by the MGM was too close to the 1930’s Dishonored Lady , by Edward Sheldon and Margaret Ayer Barnes , without having acquired the rights or crediting them in the credits (the credits of the movie says that it is based on a 1931 novel by Marie Belloc Lowndes ).
- The film of John Wayne , Written in Heaven ( The High and the Mighty ), from 1954 , is a famous example, he was seen for the last time on television in 1982 , and did not come out on video before 2005, DVD release .
- The film South Melody ( Song of the South ) of Disney , which came out last cinema in 1986 , is not available in North America because of the racial stereotype in the US reconstruction period after the war of independence . It is available in several formats in Europe and Asia.
- Anthony Newley’s musical , Can Hieronymus Merkin Ever Forget Mercy Humphre and Find True Happiness? The first musical classified X .
- The TV movie The Star Wars Holiday Special was broadcast once only on television and was banned from marketing by its producer Georges Lucas .
- Due to the presence of scenes showing illegal activities, the documentary about the Rolling Stones Cocksucker Blues was banned for broadcast except in the presence of director Robert Frank .
- American Hot Wax from 1978 was available in VHS, but is now out of print. The story of the pioneer rock’n’roll Alan Freed contains real records of the 1950s including Chuck Berry , Jerry Lee Lewis and The Planotones, as well as Fran Drescher and Jay Leno .
- The film 1982 Inchon of Terence Young was never released in any format after its disastrous performance in the halls .
- At Long Last Love , whose musical repertoire was composed by Cole Porter and Cybill Shepherd , rocked the then prestigious career of its director Peter Bogdanovich .
- In 1972 , The Day the Clown Cried by Jerry Lewis in which a clown entertains children in a concentration camp , the film ending with pictures of the shoot , but fell into the limbo of legality with the author of the book whose film was inspired, book that has never been published.
- A low-budget film version of The Fantastic Four in 1994 of Oley Sassone and produced by Roger Corman . The film’s sole purpose was to preserve the rights of adaptation and was not intended for commercial exploitation.
- The Canadian animated film Metal Screaming , inspired by the comic fantasy / sci-fi screaming metal released in 1981 was briefly marketed in the mid -1980s on cable channels like HBO . But the broadcasts were rare because of the recent existence of the video recorder and the home video industry of the time. The film was finally released in VHS in 1996 and now available in “DVD Collector”.
- Stanley Kubrick’s first feature , Fear and Desire ,ofwhich Kubrick himself bought all the copies to destroy them, viewing the film as an “amateurish work”. Nevertheless, a copy surviving the destruction was published on DVD in 2012.
- The Keep of Michael Mann was never released on DVD.
Movies found or rediscovered
Occasionally, copies of a film (such as television shows ) that are considered lost can be found. For example, the version of Frankenstein in 1910 was lost for decades until a copy was found in the 1970s in someone became a collector in spite of himself. This was also the case of J. Stuart Blackton’s Richard III film, released in 1912 , a copy of which was found in 1996 and restored by the American Film Institute . Similarly for a number of episodes of the British television series Doctor Whoconsidered as lost and found over the years, especially among private collectors, as was the case for the episode The Tomb of the Cybermen .
Sometimes, a film that is believed to be lost in its original state is restored or modified, whether by the colorization process or other restoration methods.
The Cage , the original television pilot of Star Trek , released in 1964 , only survived in its black-and-white version until the 1980s , when color elements were found, allowing a full-color version to be collected . And, in the early 2000s, the German Metropolis filmby Fritz Lang- which has been distributed under several different fixtures over the years – was restored to be as close as possible to the original version by restoring the original mount and repairing the damage by computer. However, about a quarter of the original film was considered lost, according to the DVD distributor of the restored film Kino Video . TheThe experts of the film Berlin declared that a complete copy of the original installation of the 210 minutes of the film was found 7 in the archives of the Museo del Cine in Buenos Aires 8 .
Considered lost the Austrian film Die Stadt ohne Juden (1924) was rediscovered in 1991 thanks to a copy of 1930.
Films made with pieces of lost films
Several films have been made incorporating fragments of lost films. Decasia released in 2002 , composed only of sequences dilapidated, gives the effect of a poem tone abstract between light and darkness 9 . The same goes for Peter Delpeut’s more historical film Lyrisch Nitraat in 1990, which contains only footage found in a box stored in a cinema in Amsterdam . In 1993 , Delpeut realized Forbidden Quest composed of sequences belonging to the beginnings of cinema and photographsarchives combined with new material to tell the fictional story of an Antarctic expedition destined for failure.
The paraphenical documentary Forgotten Silver claims to show footage found from the beginnings of cinema. But instead, developers use freshly sequences shot passing them for lost films 10 .
As for the film Eldorado of Bouli Lanners , released in 2008, he resumed amateur film sequences found by chance on a flea market, which bore no date and no name.
Lost Television and Radio Broadcasts
Television, even during the second half of the xx th century , had this problem. Named Wiping (in) , records up to 1980 , were erased, video tapes are recycled (or destroyed for not paying archiving). This can be explained by the fact that the leaders saw no posterity in recordings, which will then be considered obsolete with color television. The games or live shot emissions were not registered. As for the recording by viewers, it will be necessary to wait for video recorders in the 1980s to have several reliable recordings.
Cult moments were lost as a result of these policies: many soap operas, including the first episodes of Doctor Who , sports events like the first Super Bowl . Cultural events were not spared such as Eurovision 1956 and 1964 or the show Top of the Pops (with the unique appearance of the Beatles ).
Notes and references
- ↑ ( en ) The era of dumb: Presumed lost [ archive ] , accessed July 22, 2008
- ↑ Little Ferry, New Jersey,.
- ↑ ( in ) Robert A. Harris, public hearing statement [ archive ] at the National Film Preservation Board, the Library of Congress, Washington, DC, in February 1993, accessed July 23, 2008
- ↑ ( in ) Clara Bow.net [ archive ] , accessed July 24, 2008
- ↑ ( in ) New Yorker: In the Vault [ archive ] newspaper article in The New Yorker , accessed July 25, 2008
- ↑ ( en ) see The House of Wax the remake of this film.
- ↑ ( in ) The rebirth of Metropolis [ archive ] , accessed July 29, 2008
- ↑ ( in ) The local [ archive ] , accessed July 29, 2008
- ↑ ( fr ) Off field [ archive ] , accessed on July 29, 2008
- ↑ ( en ) article on Forgotten Silver [ archive ] on the cinephile’s website, accessed July 29, 2008