Recently Restored 2015

Through August 6

From July 3 through August 6, the Gene Siskel Film Center presents “Recently Restored,” a series of seventeen films showcasing recent achievements in film restoration. Also attached to the series is the Chicago premiere of FROM CALIGARI TO HITLER: GERMAN CINEMA IN THE AGE OF THE MASSES, a film-history documentary of related interest.

Film restoration is distinguished from conservation (storing prints and other media in optimal conditions) and preservation (transferring a film to a more stable storage medium, such as from nitrate stock to safety stock). Restoration involves a more active intervention designed to return a film to an original state that has been compromised by such factors as deterioration, damage, fading, loss of footage, and loss of information (such as color-tinting). It is a relatively recent phenomenon in the timeline of film history, seldom undertaken before the 1970s. Stimulated by the advent of the home-video market and cable movie-channels, restoration efforts gained momentum in the 1980s and 1990s, with several high-profile examples (NAPOLEON, LAWRENCE OF ARABIA, VERTIGO) winning attention and even a degree of box-office success.

The most important — and potentially problematic — development in the history of film restoration has been the shift from photochemical, film-based processes to digital processes. The first feature film to be restored digitally was Disney’s SNOW WHITE AND THE SEVEN DWARFS in 1993. The prevalence of higher-resolution home-entertainment formats such as Blu-Ray and HDTV has increased the demand for superior copies that more closely approximate the film’s original theatrical quality.

Digital tools have given archivists greater control over such factors as dirt, scratches, shrinkage, color grading, and even the replacement of damaged or missing areas by culling information from other, more intact areas of the print. Digital restorations are currently considerably more expensive than photochemical ones. They also carry the danger of overzealously removing such perceived imperfections as grain, flicker, and jitter to produce a sterile, excessively smooth, and inauthentic result.

These problems highlight an essential principle of film restoration: that it is not simply a matter of replicating a universally agreed-upon original version of the film. The differences in the tools, materials, and conditions by which the restored version is produced and presented make such purity impossible. This was true of film-to-film restorations (such as those involving movies originally filmed on nitrate stock and/or projected on arc-lamp projectors), and it is even more true of film-to-digital ones. Film restoration necessarily involves a negotiation between the original source and the current technology, and, accordingly, it requires a high degree of informed but inevitably interpretative judgment on the part of the restorationist.

Reflecting the increasing dominance of digital tools and processes in film restoration, this series includes only one movie on 35mm film (LITTLE MISS MARKER). The rest are presented in the reigning exhibition format of DCP, and, of those, eleven are in 4K, the current high end of digital movie resolution. We want to emphasize, however, that important achievements in photochemical film restoration and preservation continue to be made, as will be demonstrated when we host the latest edition of the UCLA Festival of Preservation in October.

— Martin Rubin


Special thanks to Tim Lanza, Cohen Film Collection; Clemence Taillandier, Film Movement; Brian Belovarac, Janus Films; Gary Palmucci and Jonathan Hertzberg, Kino Lorber; Paul Ginsburg, NBC Universal Distribution; Chris Chouinard, Park Circus Inc.; Eric Di Bernardo, Rialto Pictures; Michael Horne and David Jennings, Sony Pictures Releasing.
If you are interested in learning more about film restoration, we recommend the following online articles, all of which contributed to the writing of the above introduction:

PREVIOUSLY

1776

1972, Peter H. Hunt, USA, 166 min.
With William Daniels, Ken Howard

Showtimes:

  • Fri, Jul 3rd 3:00pm
  • Mon, Jul 6th 6:30pm

A Hard Day's Night

1964, Richard Lester, UK, 87 min.
With The Beatles, Wilfrid Brambell

Showtimes:

  • Fri, Jul 3rd 6:15pm
  • Sat, Jul 4th 3:00pm
  • Tue, Jul 7th 6:00pm

Full Moon In Paris

Les nuits de la pleine lune

1984, Eric Rohmer, France, 102 min.
With Pascale Ogier, Fabrice Luchini

Showtimes:

  • Sun, Jul 5th 5:00pm
  • Thu, Jul 9th 6:00pm

Two Men In Town

Deux hommes dans le ville

1973, José Giovanni, France, 100 min.
With Alain Delon, Jean Gabin

Showtimes:

  • Fri, Jul 10th 6:00pm
  • Mon, Jul 13th 6:00pm

The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari

Das Cabinet der Dr. Caligari

1920, Robert Wiene, Germany, 75 min.
With Werner Krauss, Conrad Veidt

Showtimes:

  • Sat, Jul 11th 3:00pm
  • Tue, Jul 14th 6:00pm

Chicago premiere!

From Caligari to Hitler:

German Cinema in the Age of the Masses

Von Caligari zu Hitler

2014, Rüdiger Suchsland, Germany, 114 min.

Showtimes:

  • Sat, Jul 11th 4:30pm
  • Thu, Jul 16th 6:00pm

On Her Majesty's Secret Service

1969, Peter R. Hunt, UK, 143 min.
With George Lazenby, Diana Rigg

Showtimes:

  • Sun, Jul 12th 3:00pm
  • Tue, Jul 14th 7:30pm

Five Day Lover

L'amant de cinq jours

1961, Philippe de Broca, France, 95 min.
With Jean Seberg, Jean-Pierre Cassel

Showtimes:

  • Fri, Jul 17th 6:00pm
  • Tue, Jul 21st 6:00pm

In 35mm!

Little Miss Marker

1934, Alexander Hall, USA, 80 min.
With Adolphe Menjou, Shirley Temple

Showtimes:

  • Sat, Jul 18th 3:00pm
  • Mon, Jul 20th 6:00pm

The Trial

Le procès

1962, Orson Welles, France, 118 min.
With Anthony Perkins, Orson Welles

Showtimes:

  • Sat, Jul 18th 5:30pm
  • Thu, Jul 23rd 6:00pm