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Film restoration Asia retrospect

Well hello everyone,I am so super sorry for the silence of that blog. I have been a very bad admin as I am busy with my dissertation on Wes Anderson (which thankfully I am done) and lots of coursework!

However I was given perhaps once in a lifetime opportunity to pursue my interest in film history…Film restoration! As I do mentioned earlier,it was Lawrence of Arabia (and Hitchcock’s Rear Window) that make want to pursue my love for film preservation


That is where I am gonna tell my event…originally this programme is collaborated by the mother of all film restoration center,Cinema Bologna in Italy and National Museum of Singapore. They do ave the practical classes which I originally wanted to do but due to cost skip that thing. Oh well luckily they have free lectures and screenings for me to go to,thanks to the invitations of lecturers.

Here is a funny story I would like to share,originally there is supposed to be 3-5 of my classmates who signed up with the program. On the first day they came in,but I did not see them for this entire week. It is such a pity because they are so many lessons in regards to film restoration,so I would summarize my thoughts of that programme

The Highlights

1)Two Italian Neo-realism films in a row!

Nice! Personally I do think that I need to watch more Italian Neo-Realism films-the last one I watched was Umberto D which is like ages. Of course one does not simply skip a double dose of Italian Neo-Realism films. It was interesting as both broke the conventions of what I perceive of Italian Neo-Realism films,Rossellini do have that flair that is very opposite to Satiro’s sparse style and I liked it. Both are very strong films of their own…However Stromboli(1950,Rossellini) etch a very strong impression,that I nearly teared at the ending.

2)Meeting Apichatpong Weerasethakul

I know his name due to Uncle Boommee (2011) by actually him discussing his debut film was an eye-opener. In addition I do have a quick chat with him and he is a very easy guy to talk too! Apparently The French do love his films. It makes me wanna watch his body of works (Recommendations for him please)

3)Lawrence of Arabia and Taxi Driver restoration (in addition watching Taxi Driver)

It’s sad that Glover Crisp is unable to discuss his works on the restoration of these two Sony Classics! However by the look of the restoration clips,I was tearing up on the inside. It looks gorgeous on screen…I mean seeing the clips on the big movie screen it was mind-blowing. I was cursing to myself that Singapore should bring this,I mean if you are looking for film restoration-Lawrence of Arabia was one of them. The main head Dario said that it was the most remarkable restorations in 10 years.  I did approach the head of my local cinematechque if it is possible to bring that film here. So crossing my fingers to get this film on the big screen

In addition guys,if you do manage to catch Taxi Driver on the big screen,I swear it was the most magical moments here. The cinematography looks amazing,I was soaked to that film. It was mind-blowing beautiful.

4)Why do we restore films talk

Perhaps I see it as the most important talk among this week,yes you can have the practical aspects of fixing each film strip but why do we restore? It’s not glamourous. It is to give future people a glance on the past as we seen films as time capsules of cultural and historical significance. I nearly teared at the end and gave a quiet hell yeah. It retouched that core why I wanted films to be restored.That quote that Gian Lucan (The head of Cinema Bologona) said “You never battle alone” just tugged me.

Things what I learned from this week

  1. The state of Asian film archives blew my mind big time,for a while I have been bugging my local archive if I could take part. That panel enlightened me on that state,film preservation is Asia is considered second priority. I think we need to change that! I mean we need to get people excited about film preservation
  2. I do need to be more unaware about the filmmakers around my region…Watching Lewat Djam Malam (1954) by an Indonesian filmmaker that I do not know,gave me a shocker….I feel that film reminded me of a teen melodrama Nicholas Ray’s Rebel Without a Cause..Yes it’s local yet it have a global film. It happened that I blog a picture on tumblr and there is a response of it…It happens they wanted to watch that..Sadly the films of my region is not easily available…so there is a big problem..
  3. Lastly I do feel that young persons need to be excited about film preservation,being the only person who is neither an archivist or a working adult but a film student. It is a shame that we do not take these lessons… I know it’s not interesting as shooting it but personally we need a love for old films and do not disregard them as films that are stuffy and old. As Martin Scorsese said “Movies touch our hearts and awaken our vision, and change the way we see things. They take us to other places, they open doors and minds. Movies are the memories of our life time, we need to keep them alive.” If we do not care about the films. It could be gone and it’s sad. So I am hoping that the museum would at these people.

Overall it was an eye opening event on film restoration,I would like to thank the ushers who greeted me fondly when I came early,a lady Yvonne who I bumped at the Taxi Driver screening always eager at my thoughts,Mr Gian Lucan Farellini for such a moving speech on the preservation of film and the cinematechque team who made this event possible. I would like to end my thoughts of that event with a quote of Martin Scorsese,an advocate of film preservation

” And that’s actually part of the wonder. Whenever I hear people dismiss movies as “fantasy” and make a hard distinction between film and life, I think to myself that it’s just a way of avoiding the power of cinema. Of course it’s not life—it’s the invocation of life, it’s in an ongoing dialogue with life.”

These films spoke about our lives whenever the past or now. That is why we need to preserve that heritage

Les Enfants du Paradis expérience-the magic of the big screen

The Highlight for me last night 🙂

During that gruelling semester,I received a very wonderful surprise in school email inbox. Here I have the saying on this film

It has been brought to my attention that one of the greatest films ever made (yes!) is screening at the National Museum of Singapore in December. It is Marcel Carne’s LES ENFANTS DU PARADIS – made in 1945 during the German occupation of France. I cannot recommend this film highly enough – it is about the theatre – and so much more – and featuring some of France’s finest actors of that time, including the great Jean Louis Barrault. You will never forget seeing this film – it may even change your perspective about acting.  

Of course – you can hire/download this and watch it on a small screen – but this does not do this masterpiece any justice. To experience the full impact of this film you need to see it on the big screen.

Of course I cannot resist that offer (aside from my much needed Singapore film society offer for free tickets). My country do show old films once in a while on the big screen. Plus I know that experience of watching on the big screen is amazing,having watched Bertloucci’s The Last Emperor on the big screen last May. Plus I heard about the restoration of that French classic,so of course I wanted to go there.

Plot-wise,it was a love triangle between a mime Baptiste (Played wonderfully by Jean-Louis Barrault) and Garache,a free-spirited socialite. Yup it sounds like your atypical Korean melodrama or even worse (for my case) Fleming’s Gone with The Wind which I loathe. Luckily it did not go for this route for me. (More will be talked on my tumblr blog)

It was pretty hard for me to stay up all night to watch this beauty,with an uncomfortable seat and an extremely warm air-con (I remember the last time I came,it was freakin’ cold). I feel slightly ashamed to go back and forth to the toilet and secretly binging snacks and water to keep me alert. I am not too happy with the projection though,it was seen as squashed and did not do justice to the restoration of that beautiful film. Yes I am ranting it out on the flaws of the screening,as I seen better screenings than this.

As I went back home,I realize that I could also have that big-screen experience at my own home. I am more comfortable in my slacks,binging on snacks that would add calories and enjoy the coolness. While my country do not have that culture like America that consistently showed films of old. My local library is more than enough to satisfy my cravings for great cinema with its varied amount of DVDS.  I could borrow all the Criterion DVDS I want,sit on my couch and enjoy it. If I am exhausted,there is always a pause button and there I go for my little breaks. In addition,there is no irritating people gossiping on the big-screen.

However it was worth it to see films on the big screen was the audience’s reactions whenever it was foreign expats or the locals (I am surprised there is a decent amount of locals coming along to see this film-my faith in Singaporeans being cinephiles is restored). We laughed at Fredrick’s exaggerated actions,I hear the ohhhhhs on Pierre-François discovering the ill-fated lovers and of course we got hurt by the parting of Baptisite and Garcahane. (I was ugly-sobbing on the inside when I see this ending). Even as I left that hall,that British Lady hold on to my shoulder and recalled on watching that film.It was brief but it made my night. As Lynch commented on why we watched films “You go to films for different reasons: just go, and then there are ones that get down and thrill your soul.” It was definitely the experience that everyone feel is universal.

I say,while it is nice to watch all old movies I want in my DVD player at the comfort of my own home. However it does not replicate that universal emotion the audience have together. I am not saying that you must sit on the big-screen all the time to enjoy it. It might be at your own home. I think enjoying films is everywhere….As I shall conclude with a quote

I didn’t grow up thinking of movies as film, or art, but as movies, something to do on a Saturday afternoon.
Sydney Pollack

No matter where I watch a film,I am enthralled by the magic of film. It’s a way of life. Like the film’s setup,we are just watching a performance of ourselves here.

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