Lost and Found: American Treasures from the New Zealand Film Archive
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(Sep 24, 2013)
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Long-lost films by John Ford, Mabel Normand, and Alfred Hitchcock are brought back to life in LOST AND FOUND: TREASURES FROM THE NEW ZEALAND ARCHIVE. Treasures New Zealand draws from the extraordinary cache of nitrate prints safeguarded in New Zealand for nearly a century and preserved through a groundbreaking international partnership led by the National Film Preservation Foundation. None of the DVD’s films have been seen before on video; in fact, none were even thought to exist just four years ago.
The 3-1/4 hour DVD, playable worldwide, includes:
Treasures New Zealand includes a 56-page illustrated catalog with forewords by Leonard Maltin and Chris Finlayson and program notes by Scott Simmon and David Sterritt; more than 180 interactive screens; new music created by Michael D. Mortilla and Donald Sosin; and a music video extra. The disc was digitally mastered and produced from the only source materials known to survive.
That films lost in the United States came to be found 7,000 miles away speaks volumes about the international popularity of American movies from the very start. By the late 1910s, American distributors circulated prints around the globe with the expectation that they would be shipped back or destroyed at the end of their runs. But some prints evaded destruction and made their way into public collections, like the New Zealand Film Archive. Today hundreds of American movies from the silent era that were not saved in the U.S. survive aboard.
The Treasures New Zealand films can be shared today thanks to the generous stewardship of the NZFA, the preservation work directed by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, George Eastman House, the Library of Congress, the Museum of Modern Art, and UCLA Film & Television Archive, and the contributions of hundreds of donors. Net proceeds will support further film preservation.
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Whether you're that deeply engaged with Hitchcock's work -- a life-spanning fascination -- or you're simply a fan of his classics -- the fact is that the early years of Hitchcock's career were "taught as lost" back in the early 1970s. Everybody started watching his body of work with "The Lodger" and the silent era was pretty much a big question mark. Now, we're all able to enjoy some of the early works. I have to admit, knowing his later work, I'm a fan of the 1925 "Pleasure Garden." Sure, it's a silent with lots of flaws, but you can see so many of Hitchcock's later themes and cinematic stylings in that movie. I even like "The Ring," despite the poor quality of most prints of that silent boxing drama. Again, we see Hitchcock's artistry at work even in a fairly hackneyed tale that was an early precursor to "Rocky."
Well, this is all a lead up to saying: As far as I can see, this collection is the only place to see the surviving remnants of Hitchcock's earlier silent, "The White Shadow." I bought this collection a few years ago and watched a couple of the selections. I enjoyed them -- but I somehow failed to notice the Hitchcock fragment in the collection. Only more recently, reading about efforts to recapture the early body of Hitchcock's work did I realize that the surviving reels of White Shadow are in this set!
No one even knew that the film existed until the 2011 announcement that half the film had been found in New Zealand. The print of this fragment was shown in a couple of major U.S. cities. The sound track is original and, if you're a fan of silent film, you know that it's a pleasure to find an original sound track of this quality. (Lots of silents are released on DVD with fairly random clips of music attached.)
In looking back onto the Amazon page, I see reviews praising this set. But I wanted to stress the Hitchcock "find" on this DVD. Perhaps this is too obscure for most movie fans -- but, if you've had a long-time fascination with his work, then I urge you to pick up a copy of this set.
Included in this set are UPSTREAM, a minor comic feature from John Ford set in a theatrical boarding house, WON IN A CUPBOARD an early Keystone comedy directed by and starring Mabel Normand, and about half of a 1924 feature THE WHITE SHADOW on which Alfred Hitchcock was assistant director. Also included are an Edison Company serial, an early cartoon from Paul Terry of TERRYTOONS fame, a fascinating documentary on the making of Stetson hats, a comedy featuring comic strip character Andy Gump, and some actualities of then current events. There's even a Technicolor short (THE LOVE CHARM), and a hand colored clip of real Virginia mountaineers The quality of most of this material is outstanding. Not surprisingly the two features are in the worst shape with THE WHITE SHADOW missing 3 reels. The Mabel Normand short has occasional nitrate damage but otherwise is crystal clear. UPSTREAM is of interest because it's a rare opportunity to see John Ford work as a contract director at Fox. The print is scratchy but quite watchable. THE WHITE SHADOW is more problematic because of all the missing footage. If Hitchcock's name weren't on it, it probably wouldn't be here. The hand colored look at Virginia mountain people was intruiging. To think that someone would have gone to the trouble to do that is surprising. All in all another worthwhile addition to the ongoing series. I can't wait to see what the next installment will contain.
Most recent customer reviews
Hitchcock, Ford, Mabel, etc. How exciting it was to get to see these!