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How a film crew travels the world to restore 1920s films

Three-quarters of the films of the 1920s, the heyday of silent cinema, are considered lost forever. A Parisian production team travels the world to restore these masterpiecesartwork. Among them, 9 films by Julien Duvivier, one of the pioneers of French cinema.

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France Televisions

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Time erases everything, even the greatest masterpieces of cinema. Three quarters of the films of the 1920s, the golden age of silent cinema, are lost according to specialists. The images are often too deteriorated to be recoverable. In this race against time, the Lobster Films teams travel the world in an attempt to restore them. And it works, as for The Divine Cruise, one of the 9 films directed by Julien Duvivier which could be saved. He was considered lost forever. But Lobster Films did a little miracle.

“We were able to reconstruct it thanks to different copies. Some were of good quality, but unfortunately abbreviated. While others were of very poor quality but complete. So we had to compare all the elements and make sure that we had the entire film, frame by frame “, says Colin Ruffin, digital restorer at Lobster Films.

In detail, the restorers do a kind of image grafting to achieve their goals. “We will select the area of ​​the image that poses a problem and we will look in the previous or following images for what could replace the defect”, continues Colin Ruffin.

This titanic job took 15 years. He began with research work around the world. “There is a bit that may have survived in France, a bit in Holland, a bit in England, a bit in Australia, a bit in Argentina. You have to know everyone. You have to call everyone, then to l ‘arrival we put everything end to end. Thanks to digital restoration we integrate all this so that we have the impression that the film has never been damaged “, explains Serge Bromberg, producer and director at Lobster Films.

Upon arrival, these restored films are sold in a DVD box. “What we have succeeded in defying is the passing of time. Forgetting no longer exists, the music returns, the image is young, eternal, as at the starting point. Suddenly, we can make people discover works of incredible modernity “, welcomes Serge Bromberg.

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