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The damage on a reel of film tells a story. It tells us how a film was projected — if the print was well-loved, manhandled, or treated like a work of art (to be owned and never shown) — and how often. Damage can tell us how a film was stored, seen, and created, and it makes every film element unique. Which, in turn, means that no two restoration projects are ever exactly the same.
The following video from the Criterion Collection unpacks what it took to create a new digital restoration of Alfred Hitchcock‘s 1934 version of The Man Who Knew Too Much. Without an original negative to work from, the distributor was tasked with finding the next best thing: a high-quality film element as closely related to the original negative as possible. But, as the video demonstrates, a near-original, high-grain element does not necessarily an easy restoration make.
You can watch “The Man Who Knew Too Much – Restoration Demonstration” here:
Who made this?
This video was created by the fine folks over at Criterion Collection, the distribution house dedicated to gathering premiere films from around the world and publishing them in editions that offer the highest technical quality and award-winning, original supplements. You can browse the Criterion Collection’s physical media on their online shop here.
More Videos Like This
- Gizmodo on how Criterion brings movies back from the dead
- “Emulsion Rescue: Revealing The Godfather” shows how the Coppola Restoration retained the subtleties of Gordon Willis’s cinematography
- An essential watch for anyone who enjoys learning about film preservation (the essential first step which allows restorations to happen): Lost Forever: The Art of Film Preservation
- There’s a reason we don’t use nitrate film stocks anymore. They’re extremely flammable and won’t go out even if you submerge it underwater. Here’s a quick video from The History Guy on the 1978 National Archives Nitrate Vault Fire
- The Rayle Archive lighting a can of nitrate film on fire with spectacular and terrifying results (nitrate should never be lit for educational/identification purposes but that’s just this author’s opinion, man)