Preserving The Wizard of Oz and Gone With the Wind

Posted by on Apr 16 2009 | Behind The Scenes, Motion Pictures

Eastman House’s camera negatives are  at Warner Bros. Studio for Blu-ray scanning

fourAs folks watch The Wizard of Oz and Gone With the Wind on their Blu-ray ® players later this year, it may be interesting to know the images were created from 70-year-old separation camera negatives – as all prints and video copies have been since 1939.

George Eastman House has been the steward for these original camera negatives for decades and it is a testament to our preservation efforts – as well as Kodak’s quality film stock and the Technicolor ® process – that the original material is the best source for all future prints and copies.

These negatives are the actual film in the camera when the movie was shot, just feet away from Judy Garland and Clark Gable as they told the world, “There’s no place like home” and “Frankly, I don’t give a damn.” Well, we very much give a damn at Eastman House, as we care for some of the greatest film collections in the world, including the world’s largest collection of Technicolor ® films – which includes both The Wizard of Oz and Gone With the Wind.

The camera negatives to these two classics recently have traveled from Eastman House in upstate New York to the Warner Bros. Studio on the west coast, so high-res scans can be made. Soon Judy and Scarlet will be back home in our climate-controlled nitrate vaults, enjoying a balmy 40-degrees, where films made before 1951 are stored (the earliest film in the collection dates to1894). And with optimal preservation care, these original camera negatives may be in as pristine condition they are today, for the 200th anniversary of these films.

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    Edward (Ed) E. Stratmann, Associate Curator, Preservation Hired by James Card in 1974, Ed has worked for all five Curators/Department heads of the Motion Picture Department. He started as a Curatorial Assistant, working with nitrate. Over the years he has been Film Technician, Vault Manager, Projectionist, in charge of the Study Center, and Assistant Curator. He took over Preservation in 1988. Ed received The AMIA Dan and Kathy Leab Award and The Pordenone Preservation Award, both in 1998. He is a founding member of AMIA and has served on the AMIA Board of Directors, as Secretary. Ed has been a member of SMPTE for over ten years and has been on the local board of Managers three times.

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