Lost and Found: Film Reels That Were Lost But Later Recovered

The preservation of films is a tedious process. In current times, with the advent of technology, it has become more convenient both to access and preserve films. However, formerly, if a film was not provided with proper care, it ran the risk of being lost. Additionally, preservation of films began being prioritized only after the 80s. There are a variety of reasons to why a film gets destroyed, lost or deteriorated.  A lot of films were displaced owing to the two World Wars.  

As of now, film historians and cinephiles are in constant pursuit of lost films as these are an important part of cinema’s heritage. Though not always successful, there have been quite a few instances, when on their quest they hit gold in the most unlikely places. Here’s taking a look at some such movies once thought lost and the amazing stories behind their rediscovery.
 
La Passion de Jeanne d’Arc (The Passion of Joan of Arc)
A 1928 iconic French movie, this movie had been lauded for great performances.  As the title suggests, the film revolved around Joan of Arc’s heroic life, her bravery, imprisonment, torture and execution. Renee Jeanne Falconetti who played the protagonist committed suicide in 1946. The movie was panned by Catholic groups and they succeeded in convincing the government to censor several scenes in the film. Two tragic fires destroyed the master prints of the film and post that the film was regarded lost. However, quite miraculously, more than three decades later, a Danish print of the movie was discovered in a Norwegian mental asylum. Till date no one knows how the print ended up in an asylum.
 
The Old Dark House
James Whale is known worldwide for directing commendable horror films like Frankenstein, The Invisible Man and the Bride of Frankenstein. However, not many know about another masterpiece of his called The Old Dark House. A Gothic horror film released in 1932, the prints of this film were soon lost. In 1968, another horror film director Curtis Harrington, was sifting through the vaults of Universal Studios, when he stumbled upon a copy of this very film buried deep within the vaults. After being released post restoration, the film garnered many accolades.
 
The Death Of Poor Joe
 
Books of famous authors have been adapted into movies many times. Charles Dickens is one such author. His works make great plots for movies. However, the earliest adaptation of his novel Bleak House, was a short film and involved only a scene from the book. This had been given to the British Film Institute in 1954, and then eventually was forgotten about. It was only in 2012, that curator Byrony Dixon discovered it in the archives. The reason it could not be found all these years- it was misfiled!
 
Different From The Others
 While films with homosexual content are common today, the Nazi-era cinema goers weren’t as liberal. Renowned actor Conrad Veidt had acted in a German film that portrayed the concept of homosexuality as acceptable. The movie was banned a year after its release and was later destroyed by the Nazis. But somehow, the co-writer of the film, Dr. Magnus Hirschfield managed to get four minutes from the film and hide it by including that part in another film. It was finally restored in 2011 with those 40 minutes of the film and anything else that could be found.

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