The tragic history of lost films; From the works of Hitchcock to John Wayne

The filing of "Batgirl" reminded everyone that the movie industry can be cruel at times. This is not the first time such a fate has befallen a film, but for a studio to spend 90 million dollars on a film, bring it to the final stages, then abandon everything and close the file of the project, it is rare in history. It is sad that the day and night efforts of the production team and the actors did not reach any results, and this film will forever be buried in the basement of "Warner Brothers" studio, along with works such as "Fantastic Four" (1994) and "The Day the Clown Cried" (1972). But at least we know these movies exist and we might get a chance to watch them one day. A bootleg version of the Fantastic Four has long been found in the depths of cyberspace, and it's still possible that something strange will happen, circumstances will change, and Batgirl will find a way to escape from prison.

BingMag.com The tragic history of lost films; From the works of Hitchcock to John Wayne

The filing of "Batgirl" reminded everyone that the movie industry can be cruel at times. This is not the first time such a fate has befallen a film, but for a studio to spend 90 million dollars on a film, bring it to the final stages, then abandon everything and close the file of the project, it is rare in history. It is sad that the day and night efforts of the production team and the actors did not reach any results, and this film will forever be buried in the basement of "Warner Brothers" studio, along with works such as "Fantastic Four" (1994) and "The Day the Clown Cried" (1972). But at least we know these movies exist and we might get a chance to watch them one day. A bootleg version of the Fantastic Four has long been found in the depths of cyberspace, and it's still possible that something strange will happen, circumstances will change, and Batgirl will find a way to escape from prison.

75% of Duran movies The consonants have disappeared

But the same hopeful statements cannot be repeated for another type of film: lost films, works that are neither archived nor canceled, they no longer exist. These films were watched only by the creators and producers of the work, or some of them were completed and screened, but no copies of them can be found anymore. There are many reasons for this, from wrongly archiving films in the past to the destruction of studios. According to statistics, nearly 75% of silent era films have disappeared forever, and almost half of sound films before the 50s have had a similar fate. This statistic is shocking and means that you will never see a large percentage of the history of cinema, films that have nothing left but a name.

The era of silent films which is called " We remember that the era of the silver screen was one of the most important stages in the development of cinema, because it turned it from an emerging phenomenon into an art form. The language of filmmaking was formed in those days, and it is disappointing that many of the first-class and innovative works of that era cannot be reviewed now. How can historians and analysts review that period when they don't have access to the original work and have to make do with marginal information. This has caused other films to be affected and their quality has become a question mark (how correct is our view of D.W. Griffiths and Charlie Chaplin as the two great talents of silent cinema? They are one of the few people whose works are available now, but maybe we had other brilliant talents that were not understood or seen properly at that time and maybe if we could watch their films now, we would reach new results). Fortunately, the evolution of the modern work and the entry of cinema and television works into the digital space means that the past events will not be repeated, a positive and consoling change that reduces the possibility of the loss of films to zero.

How are these films lost?

It was mentioned above that there are various reasons for this, but one of the main reasons is the "intentional destruction" of works. Preservation of film was not very important in the early years of cinema (films were considered a commercial product and not art, a view officially endorsed by the US Supreme Court in 1915). Thus, when films ended their theatrical run, they were effectively out of date from the producers' point of view, and since archiving works was expensive, studios preferred not to keep them. The advent of sound films made the situation more complicated because silent films were now considered "worthless", studios believed that that type of filmmaking was obsolete and audiences would not be interested in watching silent works.

BingMag.com The tragic history of lost films; From the works of Hitchcock to John Wayne

The sensitive nature of the "film base" in the 35 mm versions (which in the past used nitrocellulose It could have been highly flammable) we should also blame For example, the complete archives of the films of the "20th Century Fox" and "Metro Goldwyn Mayer" studios were destroyed in a fire in 1937 and 1965, respectively. Although some films were later found or recovered by private collectors, if they are found, the probability of their successful recovery is very low due to the passage of time, so we cannot expect more films from the silent era to be discovered.

Famous Lost Films

Meanwhile, you'll come across lost films that are historically significant, many of which were critically acclaimed during their run, such as The Mountain Eagle. Mountain Eagle) Alfred Hitchcock's second production, London After Midnight directed by Tod Browning, who later made Dracula, Too Many Crooks, the first film that Laurence Olivier He played in it, "Two Crowded Hours" (Michael Powell's first production), "The Oregon Trail" (The Oregon Trail) with John Wayne and "The Patriot" (The Patriot) was the only film nominated Oscar, of which there is no trace.

The above works are only a few examples of thousands of lost films, some of which you can find in the British Film Foundation's "75 Lost Films" list (a list that, ironically, is 19 Its film was found and almost all of them are complete). But even films that have no historical significance do not deserve such a bitter fate. Every silent film has its special place in the history of cinema, it is a reflection of the ideas of an artist and the society of his time, and it is considered a fascinating event that paves the way for the works after it. The discovery of any of these works, whether a forgotten masterpiece or a low-budget B-movie, should be taken as a good omen. They are connected, but they were found. One of the best examples is Wings, the first film to win the Academy Award for Best Picture (1927); The film was lost for decades until a copy was found in the archives of the Cinmathque de France. Wings is a revolutionary work in many ways and offers a realistic perception of air battles (through real images), a work that we can consider one of the fathers of the war and action genre, and its impact is no less than "Top Gun: Maverick".

BingMag.com The tragic history of lost films; From the works of Hitchcock to John Wayne

Similarly, you will find other lost videos that have been recovered. And in terms of quality, they are no different from the original versions. Metropolis (1927) and The Misadventures of Joan of Arc (1928) are always considered masterpieces of the silent era, but for decades, incomplete versions were available until the originals were found (the story of the full version of Joan of Arc is more interesting). , because it was found in the janitor's room of a Norwegian psychiatric hospital!). The complete versions were not disappointing and proved once again why these films have a strong place in the history of cinema.

Why is it important to preserve and preserve films?

The tragedy of lost films is beyond regret. It is due to lack of access to them. Preservation of works is important for any medium, because contemporary artists look to the past to create art, and each generation of works of art becomes a source of inspiration for generations after them. Art is a cycle of repetition and retelling, that's why the cinema of a hundred years ago is as important as contemporary cinema in terms of impact.

Films are the result of hundreds of years of education and human experiences that became more advanced over time. Rooting for Top Gun: Maverick may seem pointless, but what path it took for the cinema to get to the point of producing such a film, allows us to examine it more deeply. Every movie, from great to average or weak, leaves its mark and even if it can become a source of inspiration for only one artist, it has fulfilled its mission as a work of cinema.

BingMag.com The tragic history of lost films; From the works of Hitchcock to John Wayne

But the problem is that we can't do that, because most of the movies of one of the most important The era of cinema development is gone forever. Although some of these works have become important only because of their inaccessibility (like London After Midnight, which probably wouldn't have been noticed as much if it hadn't been lost), most of these films are now nothing more than a "name" in the cinema history books. You face them. The consequences of the destruction of these works on film criticism are also evident. Anyone who has analyzed Alfred Hitchcock's oeuvre knows that they don't have access to all of his works, and that means they can never provide the most complete review possible of this legendary filmmaker. Although the existing reviews of Eagle Mountain have pointed out that the film is not very good (Hitchcock himself described it as "awful"), but in the face of one of the first works of one of the greatest filmmakers in history, the quality of the film does not matter much. /p>

There have been few artists who have created a masterpiece at the very beginning of the path, most of them progress gradually and to see how they reached the current position, we have to look at their past works. Also, don't forget that "Vertigo" (1958) and "Psycho" (1960) both did not receive very positive reviews at the time of release, and it was in the re-reviews and with the passage of time that their value was understood. Who knows, maybe Mountain Eagle was considered a Hitchcock masterpiece that was ahead of its time. Unfortunately, we will never know the truth. Even after an extensive search by the British Film Foundation for the film, so far only a few pictures of it have been found and nothing else. Mountain Eagle is labeled as lost, a label that you can find on thousands of other films, some of which would undoubtedly have shocked modern audiences and gotten what they deserved.

  • The movie "Number Thirteen"; The mysterious fate of Alfred Hitchcock's first feature film

Keeping the original version of classic films in a more suitable environment and the interest in preserving them has caused a number of lost films to return to the world of cinema since the 50s. A miracle that if it had happened a few decades earlier, the situation would have changed completely. But if we are optimistic, saving 25% of silent films is still a good thing, this statistic could have been worse. However, we must not forget that these artists worked on these projects for months or years, and now there is no trace of their legacy left. Hoping for the day when more works from the past will be found.

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