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Monday, 4 July 2016

Bologna Diary (12) - Restorations

Grover Crisp
I wouldn't know when the moment occurred that Bologna became the go to for all the key restorations of the year. Maybe I need to talk to Clyde Jeavons who for many years used the Bologna program as the base for his programming of the restoration selection at the London Film Festival. Once Bologna started to attract the attention of all those Hollywood studio boffins who supervise the restorations of their classics and now do the digital transfer then it leapt into a whole new generation of activity. It became the launching pad for what has become, and it will continue growing, the retrieval of classic material and a place for privileged launches. If Grover Crisp of Columbia and Shawn Belstun of Warners think it important enough to be there and go into some detail about what they had to do to rescue a movie from oblivion then its clear that Bologna is world leading. For the studios it may represent money but it also means prestige though not of the kind that wins the DVD Awards!

So, a first run through some of the restorations I saw with hardly any further comment required beyond commending those responsible for their work in bringing films back to their original, or as close to it, condition.

McCabe and Mrs Miller (Robert Altman, USA, 1971). Aaah what memories of the only previous occasion I saw this movie way back when liberation from the film censor seemed at hand even if it was a Liberal who was leading it and it was someone dubbed One-armed Dick who was resisting. At first banned in Australia as part of Don Chipp's crusade to force the introduction of an R Certificate, McCabe and Mrs Miller was always a problem case. Shot in very soft focus and with so much whispered sound, it was always likely that if there were any deterioration of the original material then future screenings would be in trouble. The restoration is close to perfection. ......and my goodness that Warren Beatty was an extraordinarily handsome man. The parable of the start and the growth of the animal spirits of capitalism may well be without peer, something I don't think I quite picked up on way back when...

One Eyed Jacks (Marlon Brando, USA, 1961). At last the days of the Dollar Video version are over.  Some dismissal of this as near to worthless and at 141 minutes you can feel it testing patience, but the man is magnetic.

Beat the Devil (John Huston, USA) Grover Crisp has at last relieved us of the scratches and cuts of all those 'public domain' copies. Whatever success they were trying to emulate, most notably the The Maltese Falcon I guess doesn't quite work but still.

Adieu Bonaparte (Youssef Chahine, France/Egypt, 1985). Dubbed a masterpiece way back then, Chahine's melodrama of Napoleon's Egyptian adventure, with Michel Piccoli and and Patrice Chereau front and centre remains an indictment of the mindlessness of colonial invasion. Restored by the Cinematheque francaise and supplied to Bologna as part of a package of forty films from the Cinematheque's collection. That prompts a thought. .......Oops....... You probably need a Cinematheque to do this sort of thing.

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