The First Art Newspaper on the Net   Established in 1996 United States Saturday, November 17, 2018


Hidden film treasures brought to life in British vault
Robert Ewart, Collections Care Manager at the British Film Institute's (BFI) National Archive, looks at cans of film stacked on shelves at the storage archives at the British Film Institute in Berkhampsted, north of London on October 10, 2017. In a refrigerated vault outside London filled with old film reels, a team of curators is bringing to life forgotten masterpieces of early cinema history. A chemical smell hangs in the air at the British Film Institute's National Archive, where some 250,000 wheels of old film are stacked floor-to-ceiling. Adrian DENNIS / AFP.

by Rosie Scammell


BERKHAMSTED (AFP).- In a refrigerated vault outside London filled with old film reels, a team of curators is bringing to life forgotten masterpieces of early cinema history.

A chemical smell hangs in the air at the British Film Institute's National Archive, where some 250,000 wheels of old film are stacked floor-to-ceiling.

"As we're restoring them we're pulling back the veils of history, and we can see much more clearly than we used to," curator Bryony Dixon told AFP on a visit to the archive in the town of Berkhamsted this week.

A selection plucked from the shelves is being showcased at the BFI's London Film Festival, including a tale about the heartbreaking Indian love story of the Taj Mahal mausoleum.

"Shiraz: A Romance of India" is being screened at a gala on Saturday for the first time since its release in 1928, following months of restoration.

"It's beautiful, it's dramatic, it's got exciting locations, and great acting. And it's unique, there are almost no surviving Indian films from that era, so it's very special," Dixon said.

A score by composer Anoushka Shankar, daughter of late Indian sitar maestro Ravi Shankar, has also been added to accompany the silent film.

From hand to digital
BFI curators have restored a wealth of films including Alfred Hitchcock's nine surviving silent films and footage of a legendary Everest expedition in 1924 in which two of the climbers died.

Despite technological leaps, preparing the film begins with it being checked by hand.

"There will be a lot of hand, manual repair on the original film copies, using tape to make sure the films can pass through cleaning machines, and also through the scanner," said Kieron Webb, the archive's film conservation manager.

The team used the original camera negative of "Shiraz", along with a copy made decades later, which were combined digitally to obtain the best images and restore tens of thousands of frames.

"The removal of scratches and dirt; de-flicker, which makes the image look more stable; reduce the light and darkness changes in some shots," said Webb, summarising hundreds of hours of work.

Ben Thompson, an image quality section leader, demonstrated how to remove a scratch from a "Shiraz" scene without accidentally brushing out a horse's leg.

Restorers have also sharpened the images, which Thompson said creates more work: "As soon as you improve the sharpness of the image it reveals, brings into sharp focus the detail but also the defects."

Digital techniques, which have replaced much of the old photo-chemical processes, have enabled restorers to become more precise in their work and upgrade every single shot in a film such as "Shiraz".

'A fantastic record'
The Indian film is nearly 90 years old but BFI also holds films going as far back as the 1890s.

Despite the films' age, curators said they were easier to restore due to their brevity.
"Some of them are only a minute long," Dixon said.

"With the 1920s it gets much more complex, because the films get longer and they have a grammar to them which means if you're missing part of the film print, you have to sort of compensate in order to make it understandable for the audience."

Colour and sound add further layers of complexity, although silent films are themselves problematic because they often lack any documents to dictate the speed they should be shown at.

Restoration is a costly endeavour and the archive relies on public funds and private donors, as well as ticket sales from screenings.

But the restorers say the cultural value is boundless, giving audiences a window into an unseen age and places that have since disappeared.

"Fiction film, or non-fiction film, is this fantastic record of the whole of the 20th century that people can look at... It is, for those that care to look, a real experience," said Dixon.


© Agence France-Presse





Today's News

October 15, 2017

Exhibition presents Paris as seen through the eyes and hearts of eight Dutch artists

China museum removes photos comparing Africans to animals in racism row

Leopold Museum opens the most comprehensive retrospective in Austria of the oeuvre of Ferdinand Hodler

Armada Portrait returns to Greenwich after conservation

Stolen for 40 years, Norman Rockwell masterwork may bring $1 million at Heritage Auctions

Phillips Hong Kong announces highlights from the Fall Auction of Jewels and Jadeite

McCabe Fine Art exhibits a diverse selection of Louise Nevelson's late career works

Hidden film treasures brought to life in British vault

The Cleveland Museum of Art opens Beyond Angkor: Cambodian Sculpture from Banteay Chhmar

Shannon's Fine Art Auctioneers announces highlights from its 20th Anniversary Auction

Mona Hatoum's first solo exhibition in the U.S. in twenty years opens at the Menil Collection

Museum Ludwig, Cologne opens exhibition of photographs by Werner Mantz

Exhibition presents the work of four photographers connected by family ties

London Transport Museum opens exhibition featuring 130 original posters and artworks by women artists

KW Institute for Contemporary Art opens exhibition of works by British artist Lucy Skaer

Solo show featuring the works of the Turkish photographer Sitki Kosemen opens in Berlin

Exhibition at Freight+Volume presents a new body of work by Ezra Johnson

Gino Miles exhibition opens at the Polk Museum of Art

Asterix illustration sells for record 1.4 million euros

'Superpope' Francis T-shirts to help poor, needy

Philbrook bares all for Museum Confidential

Gayle Chong Kwan's 11-metre high sculpture The Fairlop Oak takes root in the Barbican foyer

PIASA announces highlights from its Contemporary African Art + Design sale

RRB Photobooks to publish Danish photographer 'Dublin' by Krass Clement

Most Popular Last Seven Days



1.- TEFAF New York Fall 2018 opens to strong attendance and robust sales

2.- Christie's announces auction of Magnificent Jewels and the concurrent Jewels Online Auction

3.- French court finds Jeff Koons guilty of plagiarism

4.- Papers of the exiled Stuart kings published online for the first time

5.- New exhibition explores relationship between British and Russian royal dynasties

6.- Wes Anderson presents box of 'treasures' from Viennese vaults

7.- Bonhams and Turner Classic Movies present...The Dark Side of Hollywood

8.- Hopper, de Kooning, Gorky and Stella hit new auction records in New York

9.- Old Master? Cave paintings from 40,000 years ago are world's earliest figurative art

10.- Cat mummies, animal statues discovered in Egypt sarcophagi



Museums, Exhibits, Artists, Milestones, Digital Art, Architecture, Photography,
Photographers, Special Photos, Special Reports, Featured Stories, Auctions, Art Fairs,
Anecdotes, Art Quiz, Education, Mythology, 3D Images, Last Week, .

 
Check out Casinostoplay.com for a range of beautifully designed online slot games.

Founder:
Ignacio Villarreal
Editor & Publisher:Jose Villarreal - Consultant: Ignacio Villarreal Jr.
Art Director: Juan José Sepúlveda Ramírez


Royalville Communications, Inc
produces:

ignaciovillarreal.org avemariasound.org juncodelavega.com facundocabral-elfinal.org
Founder's Site. The most varied versions
of this beautiful prayer.
Hommage
to a Mexican poet.
Hommage
       

The First Art Newspaper on the Net. The Best Versions Of Ave Maria Song Junco de la Vega Site Ignacio Villarreal Site
Tell a Friend
Dear User, please complete the form below in order to recommend the Artdaily newsletter to someone you know.
Please complete all fields marked *.
Sending Mail
Sending Successful