|Claudia Cardinale in The Leopard/ Dir. Luchino Visconti, 20th Century Fox, 1963)|
A.O Scott writes in 'To Save and Project' his recent article in The New York Times, that films are "..fragile things that often exist only fleetingly in their definitive state." It couldn't be stated any better. As he later notes, ninety percent of American silent films and fifty percent of American sound films made before 1950 are lost. Many films exist only fleetingly, period. But MOMA's forthcoming series screening newly preserved films, starting in November, is at least a warm embrace of a partially doomed situation. Films from all over the world, such as Luchino Visconti's The Leopard(1963), Manoel de Oliviera's Acto da Primavera and Barbara Loden's Wanda (1970) have all been given restorations for this series. Even Volker Schlondorff's The Tin Drum (1979)--supervised by the 71-year old director, who chose to add thirty minutes to the existing product--will be given a screening, with Schlondorff in attendance.
This effort is either a step in the right direction--no one could fault the achievements of arduous, dogged film preservation, for films of any era-- or a half-witted attempt to cater to supposedly improve a film's "vision." It is great that some of these films are oddities, but why are they all films made after 1950? Couldn't MOMA and its preservation crew have gone the distance and dug up films from the long-ago past, simply because they must be found? In any case, getting a more diverse array of films found and cleaned up seems more important to this writer than pretensions about making the director's "intent" clearer and shinier, or adding thirty extra minutes. To read the full article, see here: http://www.nytimes.com/2010/10/15/movies/15restore.html?_r=1&hpw