Wednesday, 22 February 2012
Gosfilmofond brings old movies back to life
Russia’s Gosfilmofond, one of the world’s largest film archives opens its storage at least once a year to showcase retro films, including movies of all time, unknown or lost films which have been restored with the help of the latest technology. All these rarities have been included in the Belye Stolby festival of archival movies which was held in Moscow in early February. It was named after the suburban train station where the archive is located. The festival shows how hard the archive’s staff works to restore old films, magazines and newsreel to bring them back to modern movies database with the help of IT. This year, the festival’s theme was centenaries, namely 100 years of Russian animated films. The audience was fascinated to see restored pre-war cartoons which appeared to be in color and the artists’ work was really outstanding. In the late 1930s, operator Pavel Mershin created a three-color technicolor film shooting to get a color picture. 70 years after, colored cartoons made at Soviet Mosfilm, Lenfilm and Soyuzmultfilm studios were raised from oblivion, The Tale of the Fisherman and the Fish by Alexander Ptushko was lost in January 1940 with only fragments of color-separated imprints and phonogram left. Film expert Nikolai Mayorov began a complicated digital restoration of the original color. The original cartoon couldn’t even be viewed as machines for three-colored cartoons were no longer available. It was also hard to scan the bleached film to convert it into a different format but the cartoon has finally been restored. The Russian film industry witnessed many revolutions in the past 100 years – the invention of sound, color, computer animation and 3D . Some breakthrough inventions are unfortunately known only by specialists, says movie historian Nikolay Izvolov “What is so bad about cinema? A great number of inventions depends on technologies which are not passed over to the next generation,” Nikolai Izvolov said. Pre-war colored animated cartoons, Soviet stereo movies of the mid-20th century –all this is now lost, says movie expert Nikolai Mayorov “The only country with a steady development of stereo cinema was the USSR. We demonstrated such films in 1941 and after 3 years of war continued to show them. We were the only country where stereo films could be viewed without glasses on a duplex screen,” Nikolai Mayorov said. Today the audience has a chance to see unique stereo movies restored from original colored imprints. One film brings us to forever lost Moscow landscapes of the last century. A restored movie The Park Alleys filmed in 1952 invites us to stroll across the Soviet Gorky Park. Another invention which was a matter of cinema pride in the 1960s was panoramic cinema. In the USSR it was first on screens in 1961 while in the US it appeared a year later. First, it seemed impossible to restore such a movie, says Nikolai Mayorov. “A contemporary film-viewer will see nothing special in such movies but the USSR was the fist with its equipment, technique and actors to have filmed the world’s first three-film panoramic action movie,” Nikolai Mayorov said. ... .