Library of Congress: 70% of Silent Films Lost

By Ed Sum (The Vintage Tempest)


The report by Variety and author Paul Harris certainly brings tears to my eyes as I love classic films, especially the early films by Walt Disney and Georges Méliès. As I grew to love the products from the era, I found a deep appreciation for the films out of Germany, namely The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari and Metropolis. While some of the best products from what I love from this era have survived to be appreciated by audiences today, there is a whole lot more that, from the sound of this article, is gone for good. I have to wonder what early animation experiments were made back then that is perhaps gone.

The news that not many silent films in their original film stock have survived to this day is not altogether surprising, but the fact that many products from other artists during this time exist anymore is all the more sad. In what this article suggests, hopefully the proposal to repatriation any film deemed “lost” can be found buried at some foreign film archive in Russia or wherever they may be located.

Every cloud has a silver lining, and hopefully, in this case, it means more than just the chemical used to make the film stock. I am hoping it means a concentrated effort in creating a call to arms to search the world’s film vaults for lost treasures (in whatever film format that they are kept in) so that it can get projected to a silver screen just one more time … or by some process to digitize the movie for preservation.

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