An archivistâ€™s dream is to have every film properly identified, labeled, catalogued and accessible through preservation efforts. But in reality-we have a lot of work to do before this can occur! Take for instance the latest identification project at the Conservation Center. Here is a film we do not know the original title, nor can we recognize any of its actors, scenery or specific plot line. It is a mystery that every archivist faces within their collection. How do we try to identify this film? Using our skills and techniques, we can determine that this film is a pre-1923 German silent melodrama which has been loosely translated into Hungarian.
There are very few intertitles in this film, none of which list actor, director, or even character names. Carefully inspecting the film on the bench we can follow along with the â€˜action,â€™ but our synopsis of the plot is rough. Without any proper filmographic information, this will be difficult, but is it not hopeless. We start by taking digital photographs of the key actors to share with other archives and archivists.
Using website such as LOST FILMS or the NITRATE FILM INTEREST GROUP on FLICKR we can reach out to the community by posting what little information we have to others, and with a group effort we can help bring those once unknown films back to the land of rediscovery. Who knows, the archivist may discover a long lost film that audiences and film fans have been waiting for!
Please take a look at these websites to help George Eastman House and other archives around the world identify films!
Deborah Stoiber is the Nitrate Vault Manager at The Louis B. Mayer Conservation Center. She graduated from The L. Jeffrey Selznick School in 1998. After graduation, she spent time at the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum in Cooperstown, NY working on their 16mm collection.
One Response to “Name that film!”