Before the internet gave us the opportunity to upload everything from Tarkovsky’s filmography to hilarious cat videos for electronic posterity, a film, if not properly cared for, ran the risk of deteriorating on its film stock or, even worse, being lost. Film preservation did not become a priority for cinephiles until the ’80s and by then over 90% of American silent films and 50% of sound films made before 1950 were lost completely.
Institutions like the United States’ National Film Registry, which preserved for posterity films they deemed “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant”, and Martin Scorsese’s World Cinema Foundation, an institution whose mission is to preserve rare films from around the world, try to prevent films from being lost to time.
Film historians and enthusiasts are on a constant quest to rediscover the world’s lost cinematic heritage. Sometimes their hard work yields spectacular results and they unearth long forgotten artifacts from the past, or, sometimes blind luck intervenes and a film or lost footage from one of our favorite movies is miraculously saved from eternal obscurity. I present to you a list of 8 such films, films that were waiting to be discovered like the mythical unicorn: 8 legendary films rediscovered years after they were lost…
This article was first posted on August 25, 2013