September 1 - October 5
From September 1 through October 5, the Gene Siskel Film Center presents Recently Restored, a series of seventeen films showcasing recent achievements in film restoration. Accompanying the series are several screenings of DAWSON CITY: FROZEN TIME, Bill Morrison's imaginative and informative documentary centered on the discovery of long-lost silent films in a former Yukon boomtown.
This recurring series is by no means the only place in our program where restoration efforts are highlighted. Three of our week-long runs this month — NO MAPS ON MY TAPS, L'IMPORTANT C'EST D'AIMER, and IL BOOM — feature restorations, as do our upcoming runs of Jean-Luc Godard's LA CHINOISE and LE GAI SAVOIR in early October.
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).
Restoration 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: 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, all the films in this series are presented in digital formats. We want to emphasize, however, that important achievements in photochemical film restoration and preservation continue to be made, as demonstrated in the latest edition of the UCLA Festival of Preservation, which will be presented here in October.
— Martin Rubin, Associate Director of Programming
Special thanks to Bret Berg, American Genre Film Archive; David Marriott and Ei Toshinari, Arbelos Films; Tim Lanza, Cohen Film Collection; Clemence Taillandier and Maxwell Wolkin, Film Movement; Brian Belovarac, Janus Films; Jonathan Hertzberg, Kino Lorber; Dennis Doros and Amy Heller, Milestone Film & Video; Andrea Benveniste, 20th Century Fox; Ben Model, Undercrank Productions; Dennis Chong, Universal Pictures.
SATURDAY DOUBLE-BILL DISCOUNT!
Buy a ticket at our regular prices for the first "Recently Restored" film on any Saturday in September, and get a ticket for the second "Recently Restored" film that day at the discounted rate with proof of your original purchase: General Admission $7; Students $5; Members $4. This discount rate applies to the second feature only. Discount available in person at the box office only.
1971, Andrei Tarkovsky, USSR, 167 min. With Donatas Banionis, Natalya Bondarchuk.
“An astonishing masterpiece...a dazzlingly imaginative work of the highest order with awesome production values and special effects." — Kevin Thomas, Los Angeles Times
This legendary science-fiction film, based on Stanislaw Lem’s great novel, has frequently been compared to Kubrick’s 2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY, although Tarkovsky’s approach is more philosophical than spectacular. The story concerns the crew of a space station circling a planet whose inexplicable nature challenges the very basis of human science. As he struggles to penetrate the unknowable, the hero, an astropsychologist named Kelvin, finds only a mirror that reflects back his own memories, fears, and desires in distorted and sometimes terrifying forms. In Russian with English subtitles. 2K DCP digital widescreen restoration from Janus Films. (MR)
Please note: This trailer does not have English subtitles. Our screenings of the film will be subtitled in English.
1961, Marlon Brando, USA, 141 min. With Marlon Brando, Karl Malden.
"With ONE-EYED JACKS, Marlon Brando brings cinema one of its romantic landmarks. Its cruel romantic beauty has no equal in recent movies." — Jonas Mekas, Village Voice
Brando's only film as director began under a cloud of notoriety. Original director Stanley Kubrick was fired early on and replaced by the star, who proceeded to go hugely over-budget and over-schedule. ONE-EYED JACKS was poorly received, but, over the years, it accumulated passionate admirers, including Martin Scorsese and Steven Spielberg (who together instigated this restoration) and, unexpectedly, avant-garde advocate Jonas Mekas, who compared Brando to Stroheim for his ungovernable talent. This Freudian western (one critic called it "Gunfight at the Oedipal Corral") centers on the conflict between the cocky outlaw Rio (Brando) and "Dad" Longworth (Malden), the father-figure who betrays him, with Dad's stepdaughter (lovely Pina Pellicer) forming the third leg of a triangle laced with incest, sadism, and homoeroticism. Among the film's striking qualities are its blunt juxtaposition of cynicism and romanticism, and its spectacular swirling-wind/crashing-surf landscapes, filmed in Death Valley and Monterey. 4K DCP digital restoration from Universal Pictures. (MR)
Time To Die
Tiempo de morir
1965, Arturo Ripstein, Mexico, 89 min. With Jorge Martínez de Hoyos, Marga López.
“A beguiling picture…simply told and elegantly shot.”—Carolina A. Miranda, Los Angeles Times
The first film of Mexican auteur Ripstein (THE CASTLE OF PURITY, DEEP CRIMSON), this revisionist western boasts other impressive credentials: the original screenplay is by Nobel-winning author Gabriel García Márquez; the dialogue was adapted by celebrated Mexican novelist Carlos Fuentes; and the stark black-and-white cinematography is by distinguished veteran Alex Phillips (DOÑA BÁRBARA, ROBINSON CRUSOE). After 18 years in prison, Juan Sáyago returns to his hometown to settle down, but the hotheaded son of the man Juan killed in self-defense is determined to provoke him into a gunfight. The film is remarkable for its critique of macho and its subversion of genre conventions (the pudgy hero wears spectacles and likes to knit), while the strong sense of fatalism anticipates such later Márquez works as "Chronicle of a Death Foretold." In Spanish with English subtitles. 2K DCP digital restoration from Film Movement. (MR)
1979, Andrei Tarkovsky, USSR, 161 min. With Alexander Kaidanovsky, Anatoli Solonitsin.
"A cultural event...No one interested in world cinema should miss it." — J. Hoberman, Village Voice
Tarkovsky's visionary blend of science fiction, philosophy, and poetry centers on a Bermuda-Triangle-like region known as the Zone, created by the impact of a mysterious extraterrestrial object. An eerie hybrid of industrial wasteland and primeval forest, where mirages and mind-bending traps await the unwary traveler, the Zone has been placed off-limits, but guides known as Stalkers have special mentalist powers that enable them to lead illegal expeditions into its interior. STALKER is the story of one such expedition, in which a guide leads a writer and a scientist in search of a Room which, it is rumored, has the power to grant one's innermost desires. In Russian with English subtitles. 2K DCP digital restoration from Janus Films. (MR)
Heaven Can Wait
1943, Ernst Lubitsch, USA, 112 min. With Don Ameche, Gene Tierney.
“Lubitsch's testament, full of grace, wisdom, and romance.” — Jonathan Rosenbaum, Chicago Reader
This bittersweet late masterpiece gave German-born Lubitsch his most purely American subject. Working in color for the first time, he paints a richly detailed, satiric, and nostalgic portrait of his adopted country, from the gracious mansions of turn-of-the century New York to the garish ranch of a Kansas meat-packing magnate. The underrated, low-key Ameche gives a career performance as a silver-spooned skirt-chaser who aspires to be a great sinner but whose life ends up being touchingly ordinary. 4K DCP digital restoration from 20th Century Fox. (MR)
Fox and His Friends
Faustrecht der Freiheit
1974, Rainer Werner Fassbinder, Germany, 123 min. With Rainer Werner Fassbinder, Peter Chatel.
“Fassbinder is a specialist at scenes in which the unspeakable is spoken, the unthinkable is thought, and the undoable is done with a vengeance.” — Roger Ebert, Chicago Sun- Times
This study in the transaction of love owes its particular poignancy to Fassbinder’s performance as Fox, a rough-hewn carnival worker and occasional hustler who wins a small fortune in the national lottery. The windfall gains him entrée to elite gay circles and attracts a new lover, snooty Eugen (Chatel), a middle-class dandy to Fox’s illiterate slob. Although they are opposites in breeding and class, money gives Fox the upper hand until the balance of power begins to shift when Eugen uses emotional blackmail to induce Fox to invest in his father’s failing business. In German with English subtitles. 2K DCP digital restoration from Janus Films. (BS)
Funeral Parade of Roses
Bara no Sōretsu / 薔薇の葬列
1969, Toshio Matsumoto, Japan, 105 min. With Peter, Yoshio Tsuchiya.
“A heady, emotionally resonant work of art…You will walk away from Matsumoto’s film with a newfound appreciation for what movies can be.”— Simon Abrams, RogerEbert.com
Still exciting for its bold style and way ahead of its time in its gender politics, this legendary, long hard-to-see film has resurfaced in a dazzling restoration from the original camera negative. Set amid Tokyo’s “gay boy” subculture, where gender is but one mask among many, the narrative centers on the vivacious young transsexual Eddie (played by the charismatic Peter, later the Fool in Kurosawa’s RAN). A bar hostess at the Genet nightclub, Eddie pursues a hedonistic lifestyle while flashbacks recall her painful childhood, until the two sides come together in a delirious climax steeped in high camp and Greek tragedy. In Japanese with English subtitles. 4K DCP digital restoration from Arbelos Films. (MR)