Movie Preservation and the Lost Titles

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Over the decades, many great films have met a tragic end due to mishandling or destruction of the original medium on which they were stored. Preservation of art is the key to human existence. Without art, we could easily be considered machines. The importance of a safe storage for this medium cannot be understated for our generation.

The Lost Movies

Some of the movies lost over the years include the first American adaptation of 1908 CharlesDickens’sChristmas Carol. This movie has gone through countless remakes and one might say that it has shaped our modern view of Christmas altogether.

Another one is the 1916 film A Daughter of the Gods – starring Annette Kellerman. This art piece can be seen as having substantial cultural significance, being the first time a woman appeared nude in a film. Making such a bold statement at that time could even be considered dangerous, yet it potentially led the way for others to express themselves freely.

Losing films that made such a significant impact shaping today’s world is, to say the least, quite sad.

Someothernotablemoviesthathavebeenlostare 1930 AlfredHitchcock’sAn Elastic Affair and the 1933 Two Minutes Silence, which was Australia’s first anti-war movie, along with 1967 Batman Fights Dracula, a Filipino parody created without the studio getting permission from DC Comics.

Film archivists have estimated that half of all American films made before 1950 and more than 90 percent of movies made before 1929 are lost forever.

If you want to see a list of films that have been lost for good, check them out here.


Before the digital age, preserving all these creations was tricky and needed extensive work.

Storing film tapes, for example, involves keeping them in a cold and dry place with a relatively consistent temperature of around 40° and about 40% humidity. Any external materials stored along with the film – such as tape used to join film reels together or paper with the film’s title and details – can accelerate this deterioration. The film rolls should also be allowed to breathe, and thus, storing them in airtight containers is not a good idea.

On top of that, when retrieving the film you would need to restore it and remove any impurities like dust. Take a look at a film restoration in action.

But even after the digital age snuck up on humankind, preserving these pieces was still not as easy as one could imagine. In the best cases, regular CDs and DVDs could last between 100 and 200 years, which is more than acceptable. On the other hand, rewritable discs preserve their quality for only 25 years. A deterring factor for CD preservation is that they are highly susceptible to scratches and scuffs.

Storing things locally, even for a home movie creator, is probably one of the cheapest methods to use. As this is one of the riskiest ways to approach backing up your content, many people started using cloud storage.

Thankfully some groups and organizations help with the preservation of these films.

Keeping history intact

The US Library of Congress National Film Registry deals with the selection and preservation of movies. They base their selection on which movies are culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant.

But are they to say which movies are significant and which are not? Shouldn’t it be the case that all films are preserved and not just those deemed worthy by centralised organizations? After all, the world we live in accommodates many different cultures and histories – and when it comes to aesthetics, well, that’s purely up to the individual.

Decentralization and Arweave

Some independent moviemakers will forever use analog mediums for aesthetics and style. No matter the situation, it is a good practice to keep a digital copy of your tape – just in case. And the major movie studios have, for the most part, transitioned to the ultra-modern 4k and higher HDR digital movie capturing methods.

The question is, how do we preserve the past and the future.

It is not enough to rely on centralised organizations to back up every last movie – let alone indie movie – out there. And using a centralised server for backup is not the best choice either, as any hiccups from that centralised authority will result in loss of important media.

Arweave is a blockchain, not just a protocol operating on a separate blockchain. It offers permanent storage and is possibly the best place to forever store these irreplaceable art pieces.

All we need is a decentralised entity that could help preserve these movies, so we don’t lose them forever.

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