::
 ::




location :: root / organisations,... / Unwrapping Archives: DVD Restoration Demonstrations and the Marketing of Authenticity

Unwrapping Archives: DVD Restoration Demonstrations and the Marketing of Authenticity


We are in the film Metropolis; we are in an engine room. It's a symbolic room for this film, a famous decoration. It's also a symbol for what we're doing now. We are taking a look into the restoration of a film; we are looking in an engine room to which normally the audience has no access to.
- Koerber, Metropolis


Cached from: The Velvet Light Trap 56.1 (2005) 18-31, University of Texas

Demonstrating Restoration

Since films were first deemed worthy of archival preservation, film history has been in the business of restoring memories. From Henri Langlois's pioneering efforts to store and re-present films at the Cinématheque française to Hollywood's perpetual theatrical rotation of canonical re-releases to lost film reconstructions and the current inundation of director's cuts, the recycling of authentic experience for new audiences has always been central to the reputable marketing of cinema as art. While film "restoration" in its most strict material definition refers to a range of specific cleaning and cut-and-paste strategies performed by archivists on fading and badly damaged original prints, there is a second tangible method by which the term operates through artificially restoring movie audiences' memories. Unlike an art gallery, where a masterpiece can be revisited, before the age of home video authentic film experiences were one-offs - projected rarities in space and time to be sought out at great expense. As filmmaker Bernardo Bertolucci remarked in a February 2005 interview with USA Today, prior to home video, "going to the movie theater was like going to a church, and seeing the movies with other people was like being able to have a collective dream" (Snider par. 5).

Adding to this loss of cinematic aura is the inevitable material damage to celluloid over time. Industrial and archival practices of historical film restoration attempt to reclaim authentic film-going experience as much as possible by returning us to filmmakers' original intentions through the conservation and reassemblage of the most pristine segments of available prints. Yet these salvaging efforts are also indirectly motivated by the theoretical absence of superior elements insofar as it is conceivable that more ideal fragments may eventually be located. In this sense, film restoration acts under the implicit assumption that better surviving components, even if only single frames, might be found at some unknowable future point in some heretofore unexplored archive and hence be materially incorporated into the lifeblood of the newly "restored" work of art. Driven by this archival obsolescence of both film material and film memory, the work of film restoration proper, that is, preserving the historical authenticity of cinema as art, has always been open to the renegotiation of what might be, disguised in the nostalgic, even moralizing rhetoric of what might have been. The dialectic of restorative authenticity is therefore a necessarily double movement toward an ideal historical image of cinema as much as a movement away from what can never be represented again. The rhetorical illusion of authenticity seems embedded in the presumed teleological progress of cinema itself, as if there is a nascent ideal historical moment to be captured and represented at all.(1) Thus, the archival fetish of exceptional material elements hides what I consider to be the real work of historical restoration: attempting to recover and cage obsolescent human memories along with the associated affect of aesthetic perception.

Amid these competing restoration narratives, digi-talization is merely the latest paradigm of preservation attempts to shore up material closure on cinematic memories. However, digital restoration is significant because it is physically changing the content of film history. With restoration technology we can digitally scrub an image to hyperreal ends, where it can seem like history never happened. Techniques range from hand-painting [End Page 18] individual errors or applying color correction at the click of a mouse to using software that automatically restores lost information through frame sequence comparisons.(2) Digital restoration is labor and cost intensive, but the result is never perfect. Automatic correction software used too heavily may actually induce digital artifacts, resulting in the loss of visual information. Hence, digital assistance must be performed artfully to avoid changing original meaning. Images can be recropped and sound cleaned, rescored, and redubbed. Reel change marks can be eliminated along with traces of damage like scratches, debris, flicker, stains, and image drop-out.(3) Edges can be softened, frames reinserted, continuity reestablished, and timing resynched. It has been estimated that, in all, digital restoration can fix over fifty types of errors unavailable to analog methods (Chute 4). Overall, making over a film for the DVD market involves producing the most easily consumable cultural product imaginable. This includes locating the best film elements, using the newest techniques, and excluding potentially valuable content. Once restored, a film is subject to further processes of recanonization. Thus, digitalization is increasingly changing the function of restoration.

To this end, the restoration rhetoric of digitalization potentially exposes an ontological crisis underlying the enterprise of archiving practices. Instead of "restoring" film in the sense of resurrecting the most authentic cinematic experience possible for audiences as DVD restoration demonstrations suggest, digital restoration is more accurately in the business of plastic surgery, that is, "re-storing" vis-?-vis rearchiving the distribution of film memories under the predominant filing system, artificially managing culturally specific memory gaps through the reformatted lens of contemporary aesthetic and economic priorities.

In this article I critique three non-Hollywood case studies of restoration demonstrations for The Eternal Frame, La Dolce Vita, and The Passion of Joan of Arc. These promotional DVD demonstrations are examined so as to deconstruct the state of archival continuity they overtly claim to preserve. The Eternal Frame will be shown to expose symptomatic exigencies of digital restoration incurred during the transfer from analog video. Specifically, the consensus aspect of intersubjective aesthetic judgment is unmasked for the conflicting stakes in memory held by differing roles in the restoration project. La Dolce Vita is examined through a comparison of two different restoration demonstrations for Italian and American DVD releases in order to recognize and expound on salient cultural differences evident in each. Last, Criterion's demonstration of The Passion of Joan of Arc is rhetorically deconstructed in terms of exclusive appeals made to the institution of archiving for legitimacy as a corporate authority in cultural restoration. In Archive Fever Jacques Derrida argues that our digital archives are impressions of repressed impulses, inscribed with the history of loss. By exposing concealed disjunctions produced in DVD restoration demonstrations, the point is to critically disrupt the imposing rhetorical power of "authentic" digital restoration strategically utilized for marketing purposes. These demonstrations use both revealing and concealing functions in their operations. Hence, in their respective appeals to authenticity each case study reveals some hidden archival practices while concealing other processes of historical loss. As for my interest, I am holding to Eric Ketelaar's prescription that we should strive to uncover the "tacit narratives" of archives.4 Ketelaar is referring to exposing the indirect expressions of archival discourse, examining the "regime of practices" determined by "social, cultural, political, economic and religious contexts" (136). Without presuming a static base, we can posit that archival deconstruction is an unending critical process, a ceaseless unwrapping. If the overt goal of a demonstration is to unmask the restoration process, the aim here is to deconstruct the limits of digital reconstruction.

What qualifies as demonstration? Generally speaking, DVD restoration demonstrations inform us of two things: the damaged state of the original film elements and the labor-intensive efforts required for restoring contents. Many variations on this model exist. Most demonstrations are short multimedia presentations, but some are hour-long documentaries. Significant variables include the types of errors fixed, the methods used, the justifying rationale, and the aesthetic standards employed. Most demonstrations include split screen comparisons with before and after shots, using film clips and frames as visual aids for the exposition. Comparisons juxtapose badly damaged elements with segments from restored versions. Throughout, viewers are meant to be in awe of the invested effort and quality of the restored content. By highlighting errors for us, they illustrate basic digital restoration practices. In these tutorials we learn what counts as acceptable and unacceptable damage, shaping our aesthetic expectations as tech savvy consumers. We glimpse point-and-click digital painting techniques, the actual transfer machinery, and even decision-making processes. The invisible restoration work is partially revealed, while effects of historical damage are [End Page 19] seamlessly concealed. Although relatively rare compared with DVD extras like trailers or deleted scenes, restoration demonstrations occupy a significant place in the virtual landscape of DVD content.5 Criterion has led the way, using demonstrations to promote over twenty titles in its corporate archive. Also of note are Walt Disney, the Fox Studio Classics line, and the Marilyn Monroe Diamond Collections, all of which routinely employ demonstrations. The diversity of titles ranges broadly from My Fair Lady to The Kids Are Alright to The Rules of the Game and Transformers (Season 1). In sum, these demonstrations are interesting because of the eclectic array of their official appeals to archival authority and cultural memory, especially for how they claim to open access to restricted spaces.

Digital Deconstruction

DVDs are transforming old-fashioned archives into commercial markets. David Bloom reported for Variety in July 2002: "Hollywood studios?fueled by profits from vid, cable and especially DVD?are spending millions to protect their vast libraries with multiple cold-storage facilities, expanded preservation staffs and often accelerated restoration programs" (13). In December 2003 Debra Kaufman wrote for Hollywood Reporter, "Film restoration is going great guns in Hollywood, but no matter how fast movies are fixed, the backlog remains daunting. The good news is, with media outlets from cable to DVD hungry for product, the major motion picture studios have instituted active preservation/restoration programs to make the most of their libraries" (par. 1). Bloom and Kaufman both verify that the DVD market is forcing Hollywood to reevaluate archival assets. Studios are strongly investing their own money and effort into digital film restoration to exploit their most lucrative holdings. Margaret Bodde of the Film Foundation states: "DVD has been the best thing to happen to film preservation because what it demands is the best technical representation of the film" (qtd. in Bloom 13). Yet, because of technological upgrades, digital restorations are relatively expensive, imposing market limits on what can, should, and will be restored. Although digitalization costs less every year, Kaufman reports, "most movies are restored photochemically?a $40,000?$80,000 cost for a black-and-white film ($50,000?$100,000 for a color movie), compared with digital budgets that range from $75,000?$250,000" (par. 6).6 Both reporters suggest the digital market will continue to transform archival technique. It is in this cultural battle for the future of authentic cinematic memory and archival authority that restoration demonstrations stake their claim.

This new market for authenticity creates a distinct complex of issues surrounding the limits of digital restoration. As Michael Friend (AMPAS) notes: "We don't know all the aspects of what a film image is yet. . . . We literally don't know how much resolution there is on a film. And then how does a computer read, and re-write, and re-allocate that information? We have to make sure that the digital image will not be denatured by what we do with it" (qtd. in Chute 5). Restoration demonstrations make it clear that we are no longer content with removing superficial damage. By editing into the image itself, we employ the means and motivation to resurface the intended content of film history, changing the nature and, hence, the meaning of cultural memories. In 1995 Ray Edmondson warned about the propriety of film restoration with concerns still relevant today, writing: "The loss of screen or sound quality is in effect the loss of information?the equivalent of removing vital pages from a book. So it is open to the AV archivist to falsify history?either actively or passively?and one can visualize situations in which archivists may be under pressure to do just that" (251). Thus, a digital restoration is, for all practical purposes, a new version: not a director's cut but an archival cut. In contrast to the autonomous vision expected of a director's cut, the archival cut is a palimpsest of analog and digital restoration practices, entangled decision-making processes, and cultural memories. Archivist Paolo Cherchi Usai comments on the distancing effect of film restoration:

The intention of bringing the moving image back to its supposed primordial state leads to the creation of fictive artifacts. Such a proceeding has the effect of widening the gap between the image as it is and its hypothetical condition as a Model Image. Strictly speaking, the effects of doing so are identical to the damage already suffered by the object being looked at. Giving up the attempt altogether or opposing it, on the other hand, is to fall prey to the illusion that the moving image can be frozen in time, as if it could no longer be affected by history. The formal definition should therefore include a variable r for restoration, to account for the drifting of the original viewing event into a fiction. The notion of an "authentic" restoration is a cultural oxymoron.
(101)
This anxiety over how to best exhibit archival material is part of the Freudian reading Derrida critiques in Archive Fever. There is a fundamental patriarchal repression concurrent with the death drive that defines archive fever for Derrida.7 Ketelaar sums up: "According to Derrida's [End Page 20] reading of Freud, the physical archive outside is merely an impression of the invisible private psyche. Both are traces, one internal, the other external" (132). Instead of focusing on the material ends of the archive, Derrida is concerned with laying bare the "archive drive" (19). This means exposing the deconstructive process and how the projected historical unity of the archive works against itself at its core. He proceeds on the assumption that the overt rescue mission of the archive represses its covert agenda, which is to destroy the memory it captures. If we extend Derrida's argument to cinema, the archival currency is not the original or digitally restored film but what is lost through restoring history.

Derrida proposes a concept of archiving that exposes how we are "always already" subject to competing public interests through discourse and practice. Therefore, archival discourse speaks the law of patriarchal exclusion. Contrary to demonstration rhetoric, archival authority is never "in" or "of" a person, time, or place, including other archives. Rather, archival power is produced through a cultural accumulation of historically exclusive practices. Hence, the institutional law of the archive is normatively enforced through procedures. Thus, digital restoration does not occur despite the law of the archive but through the law of film preservation, the evolving content of cultural practices.8

For Derrida, the archive drive is defined by what is lost through archival practice. He suggests that our outer digital archives are externalized impressions of the brain's mystic writing pad. If desire is founded on lack, then our cultural productions, our spectacular digital archives and their demonstrations mask a death drive that operates through habit and repetition, exclusion and accumulation. This abject archive consisting of nonrestored films is a shadow support structure enabling the visible everyday operation of archival power.

By emphasizing decision-making processes, official language, aesthetic qualities, and the cultural heritage of film preservation, DVD restoration demonstrations draw attention to the archiving apparatus, suturing our gaze into particular visions of film restoration. They legitimize appeals to archival authority by preserving the historical image of cinema, repackaging old films for new audiences.9 However, the commitment to digitally re-presenting the historical "real" increasingly signifies something other than authentic or original. As viewers' relationships with film history become slippery and visibly obscured, these DVD extras repurpose preservation techniques, producing customers for qualitatively new historical content. Appealing to institutional authority, they help construct DVD market demand by developing consumer appreciation for restored product, employing a spectacular strategy of asset revitalization through plastic surgery. Thus, restoration demonstrations suggest that digital restoration practices are less concerned with archival conservation than actively shaping the market for cultural memory.

PLAYBACK: Preserving Analog Video (The Eternal Frame)

In his 2000 article "Film Preservation at the (Digital) Crossroads" David Chute asks, "When there's no longer anything we can't 'fix,' where do we draw the line?" This sentiment is echoed by Martin Koerber, supervisor of the 2003 restoration of M: "The irony of digital film restoration is that the more you do, the more you do. In other words, when is enough, enough?"10 This question of archival efficacy is examined in-depth on a 2003 DVD produced by the Bay Area Video Coalition (BAVC), PLAYBACK: Preserving Analog Video. It tells us that since the 1980s film archives have seen significant growth in their video holdings, generally adopting the Betacam SP format as a default archival standard. As video archives switch to digital formats, they face similar problems facing 35mm film but on a decidedly smaller and financially limited scale. As video artists and archives strive to save unique work from decay they increasingly focus on migrating works to digital formats. Using Digital Betacam, with a relatively low compression rate (1.6:1), much of the digital loss experienced in this format transfer is mitigated, if at a higher cost than analog archiving. Even more expensive is the uncompressed 4K digital format, proving too costly for many efforts. The BAVC DVD archives the video format, including descriptions of obsolescent video playback technology and the peculiar exigencies involved in digitally preserving analog video.11 The entire DVD functions as a macro restoration demonstration, including a full record of the decision-making process involved in digitally restoring a seminal art project from 1976, The Eternal Frame. It illustrateshow conservators' decisions often cross over into otherperspectives?those of curators, technicians, and artists?raising restoration issues of authenticity and pragmatism. The Eternal Frame is a joint production of Ant Farm and T. R. Uthco involving an on-location reenactment of the Kennedy assassination in Dallas. The BAVC DVD shows group representatives Chip Lord (Ant Farm) and Doug [End Page 21] Hall (T. R. Uthco) moving through the digital restoration process step by step with curators, technicians, and conservators. Although some techniques vary between film and video restoration, many of the archival concerns have a distinct resonance with film restoration.

One demonstration on the DVD involves Lord, Hall, an online editor, and a conservator discussing the authenticity of art.12 Since the quality of the initial video work was limited by autofocusing cameras, many shots ebb in and out of clarity. While this was not their original intent, they were nonetheless limited by the technology available at the time. It is the artists' view that at least some of these errors can be minimally adjusted without harming the project's integrity. However, Pip Laurenson, the conservator (whose task it is to ensure that as little information is lost during the transfer as possible), eventually wins the argument, making the case that authenticity is interwoven with the limitations of the available technology of the time. At what point, in other words, is a new object being created through restoration? Robert Riley, a curator, voices similar concerns as Laurenson, adding that "the history of the machine . . . is imbedded in the art work." Riley wonders about the efficacy of repairing artifacts that are bound to the nature of the work. He asks, "Do you make that artifact or degeneration of the image part of the pulse, part of the heartbeat, part of the very nature of the work that might have been done in the early '60s or middle '60s, because the equipment was rough?"

During the restoration of The Eternal Frame we witness drop-outs being fixed, color corrections being made, and digital painting being applied over large debris and scratches. To underscore this image transformation we are given both a split screen comparison between the original and restored project and the unique option to see both versions preserved in their entirety. This speaks to the insider aspect of the DVD, which functions as an industrial film for artists and archives.13 The original version of The Eternal Frame is murky, with washed-out colors and significant image drop-out. The second feels fresh and clear, as if we were there in 1976. However, this does not necessarily prove the argument for restoration. Rather, given the project's message about the powers of media on cultural memory, the case could be made that the history of image decay from 1977 to 2003 is precisely what should be preserved. The archive of the future may need to preserve two states of historical decay, one analog and one digital. Thus, the archive as a split subject, divided between analog loyalties and digital promises, may have double the work, as it is made responsible for cataloging the difference of memories as much as material provenance.

After the restoration on The Eternal Frame was completed, the question of whether the digitally restored version constituted an original artwork was addressed by Riley:

This is a very philosophical question, whether the conserved Eternal Frame is a different piece from the original. . . . It's my perspective that it is not a different piece. That the artists were involved in its sort of rehabilitation. That there are many so-called originals to look at to find out which one had the least amount of decay on it. Is it a new piece? (pause) Yeah, because its method of distribution has been somewhat simplified, but it's still the original work. Nothing has changed in it in terms of these kinds of decisions or marks and it still finds the viewer in ways through the moving image of video. It's only a new piece in that where it's located?in other words, how it's coming to you. That's the only thing that makes it a new piece.
(PLAYBACK, sec. "Preservation Case Study")
From a curator's perspective, Riley concludes that distribution format and viewing location are appropriate criteria when determining authenticity. Hence, for restored products, packaging and interface count as historical content. The artists' viewpoints, when they were asked after screening the restoration, "Do you think that it's a new piece of work, or . . . ?" are even more ambiguous:

Chip Lord: I think it is in the same way that the restoration of Vertigo is a new piece of work when you go into, you know a modern day theater and you see it. But at the same time . . . the goal was, and I think it is to replicate the experience that some of the first audiences had in seeing it. So in that sense I think it's a new work, but it's still like 99% as close as you can get to sort of recreating the original work.
Doug Hall: But I think that you've maintained that funkiness and that kind of '70s video quality to it. And I think that we were attentive to that. In other words we were attentive to not making such egregious changes into it as to actually change the substance of it. So I don't really feel that it is a new work.

(PLAYBACK, sec. "Preservation Case Study")
Both Lord and Hall regard affect as central to originality yet arrive at separate conclusions. Lord's response is linked to the means of exhibition, whereas Hall focuses on the artistic intent of the "reconstruction," opting for an "all things considered" approach.14 Amy Friedlander discusses findings about this concern in a 2002 study published by the Library of Congress: "There are discussions over whether to use sampling/compression strategies, the extent [End Page 22] to which migrating the information introduces errors if the data are resampled, and the implications of migrating formats for version control and integrity. When a digital work is migrated, perhaps in very short order given the rapid development of the technology, what is the original work?" (4). The BAVC demonstration situates viewers inside the decision-making process, showing us archival choices made by conservators, curators, technicians, and artists during digital restoration. However, the real work of restoration is arguably done on historical memory, convincing viewers this is the way a film was intended to be seen and this is how it should be situated within historical context. Showing before/after comparisons and the decision-making process, demonstrations prompt viewers to see analog aesthetic criteria as inadequate and digital restoration as an improved archival standard. Reflectingon the frame-by-frame treatment of Chaplin's Modern Times, MK2's Marin Karmitz said, "It's like restoring the frescoes . . . in the Sistine Chapel. We're giving the work its original identity back" (Doland par. 5).

What is lost in the digital translation of The Eternal Frame? The answer concerns the vanishing point of authenticity on the digital horizon. Originality and authentic experience are exposed as language games with shifting rules dependent upon particular subjective perspectives and format paradigms. This ambiguity is reflected in The Eternal Frame wherein the authentic traumatic moment of the JFK assassination is endlessly remediated through the video image. Through explicit demonstration of the decision-making process, objective criteria for digital representation are unmasked through both form and content as the consensus production of intersubjective aesthetic judgments. It would seem the further we are removed from history, the more authentic its ideal image appears. Indeed, if we move far enough away from the original, the image may become as transparent as to appear alien, hyperreal, and even ahistorical. The result of restoration can be an uncanny palimpsest of analog and digital restorations and embedded historical differences?fixes superimposed upon fixes.

La Dolce Vita (x2)

Fellini's La Dolce Vita saw two DVD releases in recent years with restoration demonstrations.15 The first two-disc set came from Italy in 2003, coded Region 2 in the PAL format.16 The second version was released in 2004 by Koch Lorber as a two-disc Region 1 NTSC DVD set. Both sets feature distinct digital restorations and restoration demonstrations. The American release has a modest demonstration that binds viewers to the comparative logic of "showing." Textual explanation and narrative authority are conspicuously absent, emphasizing plastic changes made to sound and image. The repeated structure is a conventional before/after montage, except for atypically long clips that are never slowed down, demonstrating aesthetic differences in real time. Specifically, we are shown before/after comparisons of the opening scene in which the statue of Jesus is hoisted by helicopter, the second club scene, and the scene in Fontana di Trevi. By subtracting superfluous narration explicating the restoration process, exact procedures remain shrouded in mystery?letting us in, but not too far inside the decision-making loop. This simple comparison focuses on input and output instead of cultural process. It implies demonstration is self-evident, including how and why the restoration was performed.

By contrast, the Italian release relies on a different set of tactics, focusing instead on memory and cultural authority. The film is subtitled in English, but, as with many foreign DVD releases, the extras are not. However, there is one notable exception. The restoration short Cinema Forever is subtitled in English, giving linguistic outsiders a glimpse into one Italian company's restoration practices.17 In contrast to institutional appeals or before/after comparisons typical of American demonstrations, Mediaset ties their preservation philosophy into the Italian culture of filmmaking. Highlighting the particular cultural heritage of Italian film, this demonstration focuses on one individual whose filmmaking knowledge situates him as a cultural authority. Working with Mediaset on many film restorations, Enzo Verzini is a technician who once worked with the biggest names in Italian cinema, including Rossellini, Visconti, Fellini, Antonioni, and Pontecorvo. As the narrator states: "Today Verzini is one of the world's leading experts in the restoration of black-and-white films. For Mediaset he has restored among others Pasolini's Mamma Roma, De Sica's Umberto D and Rossellini's Francesco giullare di Dio."

The main appeal to authority here is made to the memory of an aging man, the symbolic patriarchy of culture, rather than exclusively to the institution of archiving. It is implied that his archive of life experience and memories as a film technician in sum constitute his apprentice-ship as a restoration authority: "Enzo Verzini was born inRome in 1918. Since he was a child, he has worked on the [End Page 23] developing and printing of many of the most celebrated masterpieces of the Italian Cinema. He also became the trusted technician of many great directors."

During the demonstration Verzini relates anecdotes about working with filmmakers like Antonioni and Visconti, authenticating his insider knowledge and authority. Verzini tells stories about technical decisions he made while working on classic Italian films, including Fellini's 8?, remarking, for example, "All you see of Claudia Cardinale is her eyes. With the high contrast I used on her I blocked out everything leaving only her eyes. Indeed, after I did that, he wanted to shoot Mastorna using high contrast. Then he fell ill and just ten days before he died he said: 'Enzo, when I'm better we'll make Mastorna.'" Relying on his extensive range of memories and experiences, Verzini appeals to his insider cultural knowledge of Italian filmmaking and filmmakers for archival authority. After all, who better to restore the look to a film than the original technician? Although these are not identical roles, Verzini's authority is constructed as unquestionable through stories connecting him to the patriarchal tradition of Italian cinema. For example, Verzini relates how he personally gave The Battle of Algiers its documentary feel and La Dolce Vita its "hyperrealistic silvery look."

It should be asked what exigencies these demonstrations address. For the Italian release, the rhetorical appeal to justify restoration emphasizes responsibility to the teleological history of film as a cultural art form. This can be situated in direct contrast to the American demonstration, which focuses exclusively on plastic aspects of sound and image. In contrast, the restoration practices in the Italian demonstration sound analog and visceral. The narrator asks:

But how is a film restored? First the negative is examined and the damaged parts are matched with the copy, a negative duplicate or a copy of the interpositive, which is called the "lavender." When the best material has been identified the missing frames are replaced on the original negative. The next phase involves print grading which means ensuring that the original and the restored parts have a level of luminosity so similar that the difference passes unnoticed. Any remaining defects can now only be eliminated by what is called "wet gate printing" and creating a copy of the negative. The restoration is almost complete. The scenes to be replaced are duplicated, inserted onto the negative and then printed. The film has been saved. It's said that art is like life. Nothing can guarantee that it will last forever. Or almost nothing. Cinema is forever. We need to restore films today so that we may see them again tomorrow.
In this demonstration there are no digital touch-ups that zoom in on individual scratches. The viewer sees a comparison, but differentiating between analog and digital traits is not the primary interest. Whereas the American demonstration actively calibrates our skills of perception by emphasizing comparative differences, the Italian release has more on its mind. It broaches patriarchal metanarratives of archival preservation, emphasizing the onus of restoring film history, linking the memory of a culture's past to the future of cinema. In the figure of Verzini one individual's memory substitutes for all the rest; he ties us to the authentic historical moment of filmic inception. This investment presumes either that Verzini's memory is incontrovertible or that historical representation is inherently subjective anyway.

Film restoration involves balancing material observations and subjective aesthetic judgments. The Italian demonstration for La Dolce Vita intrinsically binds image restoration to questions of national memory and cultural differences. It shows film preservation conferring new life to the Italian culture industry, shaped by patriarchal auteur signatures like Fellini, Antonioni, and Visconti. However, digitalization is not shown producing new aesthetic values or procedural differences. Rather, digital archiving is only implied as part of a historical continuum of archiving practices preserving the continuity of cultural memory. Hence, the tacit narrative of Cinema Forever constructs the exigency for digital film preservation in terms of re-storing cultural memory, illustrating that preserving cultural archives involves people making decisions instead of software. Referring back to Verzini, the demonstration concludes: "A film is not unlike the life of a man. He is born and lives for many years and his soul may live forever. But his body, after a while, begins to age. A film too lasts for many years and continues to live in the minds of its audience. Those who see it share its emotions, its story and its characters become like friends, our friends. Some films even come to symbolize an era or a country." DVDs exhibit films as cultural events.18 Archival preservation is now understood as a complex ongoing process of maintaining cultural memories about film rather than merely duplicating film onto safety stock. It is clear that no film stock is safe across time, just as no media format or human memory is outside the historical probability of damage, decay, and playback obsolescence.19 Preserving cultural memory is therefore integral to digital restoration.

What remains lost in this exposition of cultural difference is a universal digital restoration standard that can [End Page 24] single-handedly bind the universe of cinema together through form and praxis. Restoration and its demonstration vary from culture to culture, responding to different market and consumer demands. The digital criteria for the ideal cinematic image vary with the difference of cultural memories and preservation policies. Cultural authority is thus relative to the evolving politics of taste. What counts as digitally restored for one country or local audience may not pass the exclusive standards of taste in another.

The Criterion Collection/The Passion of Joan of Arc

The Criterion Collection has released more restoration demonstrations than any other DVD distributor, cultivating collector appreciation for restored films and model images.20 In his article "What Is the Criterion? The Criterion Collection as an Archive of Film as Culture" James Kendrick writes about the appeal of DVD marketing. More than a mere digital archive, Kendrick concludes that "Criterion positions itself as not only an archive of important films, but the ultimate exhibitor of its own archive" (125).21 Although Kendrick acknowledges some of the new archival limits imposed on Criterion by the marketplace, including price and licensing agreements, he claims that on the whole Criterion's authority as a cultural archive of cinema has more to do with its inclusive policies than the traditional limits imposed on and by archives (130). However, it seems to me that Criterion achieves its sign of authority because of exclusive limits, not in spite of them.22 Criterion liberates us from some archival restrictions but subjects us to others. By appealing to the sign of the archive, Criterion is also incorporated into its restrictive discourse. Consequently, Criterion is not detached from the institutional law of the archive but is in fact one of its biggest promoters. Rather than taking its authority as given, it is interesting to note new exclusions Criterion produces. For example, that Criterion DVDs are some of the most expensive on the market or that you should ideally exhibit them in a high-end digital home theater should not be played down. In being recognized as the cultural archive Criterion is also in a potentially abusive position of power. Hence, as keepers of the archival standard, the criterion of restoration law, I am critical of how inclusive Criterion actually is. Criterion's distribution of eclectic noncanonical films like Armageddon, Carnival of Souls, and The Beastie Boys Anthology are arguably merely token inclusions that prove the rule, paving the way for the exclusive Criterion standard. In a 30 November 2004 interview with the Chicago Tribune Criterion producer Kim Hendrickson acknowledges as much, stating: "We're always addressing the issues of the library and getting out new filmmakers that we haven't been able to put out before." Hendrickson explains further: "I feel like 2005 is the introduction of a lot of people to the Criterion library that you haven't seen before. John Ford is possibly on the horizon. There will be Mizoguchi and a few more women inserted into the collection. But we're driven as much by what the collection is missing and how we're going to address those gaps" (qtd. in Klein par. 8). Further, while its diverse use of DVD extras has empowered its legitimacy as an archive of film culture, the collection still strongly allies with the "film as art" paradigm.23 As Criterion President Peter Becker comments, "They'll be at best, the best films you'll ever see. At worst they'll have been worthy of your attention and you may not like them. . . . Putting movies on DVDs is a matter of the medium's survival."

Kendrick argues that "the Criterion treatment" confers cultural legitimacy to films, conceding their exclusive standard bestows collector's value to the archive. But can we call this canonizing practice culturally inclusive? The archival appeals suggest that Criterion is actively involved in canonizing procedures, a fundamentally exclusive cultural practice. As Eric Ketelaar reflects, "The archive reflects realities as seen by the 'archivers'" (133). Blue Underground films, Strand releasing, Something Weird Video, and Other Cinema are a few examples of DVD distributors with substantially different content from Criterion. Their catalogs include industrial films, restored splatter films, pornography, Christian scare films, and collage films?not, generally speaking, the type of material given the Criterion treatment. Criterion is clearly affecting the digital canon. Jonathan Rosenbaum writes: "Throughout the history of film, prioritizing done by film distributors and exhibitors and now dvd producers and distributors inevitably becomes a form of canonizing, even if previous canonizing obviously influences some of their decisions" (par. 12). Since we can only cherish what is distributed, Rosenbaum concludes: "It's wonderful that these works are now on dvd . . . and daunting to consider how much decanonizing and recanonizing is going on because of these and other factors" (par. 14).

Those behind the Criterion Collection have invested vast efforts into improving on the historical image ofcinema, preserving classics as one might refurbish a famous [End Page 25] painting. Clearly, this is arduous technical work, as the liner notes and restoration demonstrations attest, buttressing the quality of their work with the amount of fixes made. The appeals to archival authority made in these demonstrations can be directly linked to consumer value. For DVD consumers, recognizing that funds were invested in digital restoration legitimizes the film as a model of archival procedure. Criterion's decision to restore and therefore to rearchive can lend films the weight of canonization in the public eye.24 Indeed, the main objective of restoration demonstrations is to build brand loyalty through product distinction. Criterion demonstrations function both as appeals to the sign of archival authority and as historical prostheses as if to say, "This is what you are not seeing, which we have so kindly concealed from public view." These demonstrations use textual and visual archival imagery to construct viewers who can appreciate product differences between analog and digital aesthetic criteria. This restoration tutelage increases the market value of the Criterion Collection by producing its own exclusive demand.

One legendary restoration was Criterion's DVD release of Carl Th. Dreyer's The Passion of Joan of Arc. According to the demonstration titled "About the Digital Image Restoration," "The element of The Passion of Joan of Arc transferred for this video edition was made from the vintage print miraculously found in a Norwegian mental institution in 1981. Although far superior in image quality to anything else still in existence, this print nonetheless showed signs of wear and tear. Having been projected more than once, the film was then stored in a closet?certainly not ideal circumstances?for over 50 years." The rhetorical appeal to authority is made to a gothic archival location?the closet of an insane asylum in Norway. In the last place you might ever look, the possibility of a film treasure being discovered extends the chance for other lost films emerging from piles of dust. This gothic narrative speaks to unearthing a repressed archival history. Such found works are finding new audiences through digital presentation and distribution. The demonstration continues: "The Criterion DVD represents the first video edition of this definitive version. Before now, the only available editions were pirate copies: poor transfers made at incorrect frame rates from inferior film elements." A case is being made for archival legitimacy. Criterion is situated as better than a closet, more legitimate than pirates, and doing the full restoration and release work of public and studio archives. It is clearly implied Criterion would not distribute inferior quality elements or carelessly exhibit films using incorrect frame rates, aspect ratios, or other compromised forms: "The newly found element showed immediate, dramatic improvement over these previous editions. Still, work remained to be done. Scratches, dirt, chemical stains, and tears appeared throughout. Though it would be impossible to remove every imperfection, it was possible to repair the most glaring examples. Here, for instance, a particularly jarring splice in the film element has been removed." The rhetoric employed in Criterion restoration demonstrations positions its digital techniques in competition with conventional restoration practices. Reaching a broad audience through mass distribution, Criterion is presented as more public than a public film archive, although it remains a private corporate interest. Further, by touting its extensive corporate resources, reputation, and library assets, Criterion proclaims the superiority of its restoration work over other archives. Although the digital fixes described may be conventional, the particularity of the Criterion restoration project is emphasized by disclosing the number of fixes made and the name of the third party software Criterion consistently utilizes: "The restoration of the video image of The Passion of Joan of Arc was performed by Mathematical Technologies, Inc. using software developed by the company. In all, some 20,320 individual blemishes have been digitally removed by the restorers, making the best available film element look even better."

This final appeal made to archival authority is heavily couched in the rhetoric of corporate legitimacy, the sublime quantification of damage, and the implicit argument that the best future for preserving film history lies in emerging digital technology. Any appeal to preserve the past is demonstrably bound to a corporate vision of the future. The Criterion archive of the next century seems ruled by statistics and software put in the service of both traditional restoration practices and corporate distribution strategies. As this quote makes clear, Criterion intends not merely to be the status quo but to redefine archival standards. Hence, the movie you see in the comfort of your home is arguably better preserved and exhibited than at many theatrical screenings. Even if you gain access to a private archival screening, your viewing is restricted by analog technology compared with more interactive DVDs. You simply cannot explore a public film archive as easily as you can navigate a DVD database. Instead of scouring through dusty files for hours, you have remote-controlled nonlinear instant data access. Instant access to cultural archives, especially [End Page 26] to previously lost or badly damaged films, produces new methods of research, collecting, archiving, and experiencing film history.25 As a testament to the pervasiveness of the technology, DVDs are reverse engineering archival science and film studies by redefining terms of cultural preservation, access, authenticity, conservation, and critique.

Restoration demonstrations like the one on The Passion of Joan of Arc DVD operate through a dialectical rhetorical logic of synecdoche and prosthesis. Synecdoche refers here to the strategy of using a part to stand in for the whole, whereas prosthesis conversely indicates an artificial substitution for corporeal lack. Using synecdoche, a single frame is often sufficient to show the impact of errors throughout an entire film, just as a short clip from an unrestored version stands in for the rest of the film concealed by the restoration. The other strategic aspect of restoration demonstrations is prosthesis. Both revealing and concealing, demonstrations also act as bandages for lost memories of film, briefly linking the ways in which we used to see and remember film with changing digital priorities. If done right, digital fixes may completely conceal the complex physical history of a film. Hence, to construct appreciation in a demonstration it is important to show that restoration work has been done, even if only to a symbolic extent. The appeal to archival authority is made to an institutional paradigm of historical preservation rather than the sustained quality of singular practices or corporate interests. Legitimacy is constructed as an amalgam of analog and digital techniques, promoting ideological allegiance to the archival paradigm and restoration practices in general. As these gestures of archival demystification suggest, restoration demonstrations finally stand in for lost ways of seeing. Viewers are aggressively sutured into historical preservation projects through demonstrations that produce demand for digitally restored films. We are shown shards of damaged films now excised from the center of the frame and relegated to the depths of the corporate archival unconscious. In some demonstrations the original image is literally wiped clean with a moving digital line, a historical squeegee that paints as it goes. Damaged traces from original versions thus stand in as ghostly outtakes from constitutionally different films.

Against Conclusions . . .

Restoration demonstrations function as discursive travelogues for films, mapping nomadic movement from one historical situation to a different cultural context. Split screen image comparisons, demonstration staples, operate on cultural memory by suturing two histories (analog-before/digital-after) together of the same film with a digital scar. The viewer's position is ahistorically situated somewhere in the middle of this stitch, along the vertical stripe dividing the split screen between analog decay and digital restoration. As the restoration comparison for the Criterion DVD release of Fellini's Amarcord notes: "Automated recognition and nonlinear spatial-temporal filtering were both used to perform, in effect, digital surgery." For all practical purposes, the unrestored analog version of a film barely exists for DVD consumers except as primitive fragments used in comparisons. The digital restoration functionally supplants and rewrites the shifting memory of a slippery past. In this sense, the demonstration of this loss is a temporary dressing for a permanent wound. Thus, comparisons have contradictory functions: they preserve the appearance of historical continuity while deconstructing textual authenticity.

Such demonstrations are not oppositional or even necessarily discursively disruptive, but they do chart the ability of films to migrate into different historical eras, revealing temporal disruption. At the end of the day consumers are not being sold archival restoration techniques so much as new consumer standards for evaluating the aesthetic transformation of films across space and time. Film viewers are sutured into an evolving market-driven restoration paradigm where both analog and digital forms are part of the new mutant life cycle of a film. Any perceived historical loss or cultural rupture is numbed by the spectacular consumer value of restored films?the primary supporting evidence for future restoration projects. Like their color bar counterparts, restoration demonstrations are calibration tools, prescriptively attuning consumers' aesthetic criteria toward particular visions of what film history should look like.

We are now deep inside the engine room of Metropolis. Let us return to this archival space of cultural memory where cinematic meaning is endlessly restored and re-stored. For Derrida, an archive manifests repressed memories, both actual and virtual. What is lost never fully dissolves, for we have archived the memory of that loss, and the trace of that memory as a sign, which functions as the displaced prosthesis for a repressed memory that may or may not have happened. Digital restorations risk severing direct connections between the signifiers and signified of film history through ahistorical practices, registering [End Page 27] a greater history of loss through difference than what is unearthed. Thus, the sign of archival authority appealed to in these demonstrations is radically unstable and subject to endless deferment of meaning. An absurd inscription on the back of The Complete Monty Python's Flying Circus DVD box set simplifies the point: "How the DVD Process Works: The imperfections of the original ANALOG Monty Python shows have been analyzed and painstakingly reproduced as DIGITAL imperfections."

According to Derrida, archives of memories collect more than historical truth, which they never capture at all. Instead, Freudian impressions restore/re-store the loss of truth over and over again, building prosthetic monuments to repressed memories. Still, as Ketelaar concludes, "The archive, in Derrida's thinking, is not just a sheltering of the past: it is an anticipation of the future" (138). Archives are slippery, deferring meaning across a range of historically shifting signifiers. More than repositories for truth, knowledge, and art, archives also speak cultural impulses, fears, and desires through exclusionary acts. One example is how politics of taste affect canonization. With the popularity of DVD, market projections increasingly determine the seen and the unseen in the digital canon, negotiating between the probable shelf life of films and the commercial promise of digital restoration. Silent films and orphan films have fallen off in priority, while movies currently in theaters get simultaneous DVD releases. Upwards of 80 percent of silent films and 50 percent of color films are considered lost, constituting the bulk of the shadow archive ("Cinema Forever"). Thus, restoration demonstrations function as prostheses for a vast array of cultural losses. As Derrida assures us and DVD restoration demonstrations attest, digital archives will continue to systematically collect, preserve, and exhibit (as well as exclude, repress, and conceal) the symptoms of cultural amnesia in spectacular new ways.

Nathan Carroll is a Ph.D. candidate and associate instructor working on a combined degree in the departments of Communication and Culture and American Studies at Indiana University, Bloomington. He has an M.A. in philosophy (aesthetics) from the University of York, U.K.
Endnotes

1. According to The Film Preservation Guide, "In the conservation and restoration of any artifact or museum object, preservationists abide by the physician's oath: First do no harm. Film preservation is no different. Whatever effort is invested to save a film, the actions should not damage the original. The original should emerge intact and whole at the end of the process. As doctors reject killing the patient to cure the disease, so preservationists should avoid sacrificing the artifact to save the content. Of course, there are cases when the original is so damaged that it cannot be retained, but these are the exception" (41).

2. See the Metropolis restoration feature for a demonstration of this procedure. Also see Lev Manovich, "What Is Cinema?" in The Language of New Media for a discussion of the contemporary shift in cinematic methods from the Kino-eye to the "Kino-brush" (308). Rather than erasing damage, digital restoration techniques paint over damage, layering restoration histories in the process, which is reminiscent of a palimpsest. Manovich argues that new digital media make repressed precinematic methods of image painting visible again. He further defines new media archives in terms of databases. Clearly, a DVD is a cultural database in the sense that it archives cultural information. Still, the question is, How much of that cultural value is derived from historical memory loss at the hands of politics and taste? Even further, What are ethical limits for digital representation?

3. Lee Kline, Criterion's technical director, remarked to NPR on 12 June 2004, "Scratches are evil. Scratches are the hardest thing to remove, because continuous vertical scratches that you see that just go straight down from the top to the bottom of the film?there is not information under it to actually pull from to actually try to restore."

4. This article proceeds on Eric Ketelaar's prescriptive definition: "Archiving is a 'regime of practices' which varies in any given time and in any given place. People create, process, appraise and use archives, influenced consciously or unconsciously by cultural and social factors. What applies to recordkeeping in organizations, applies to the archives as a social institution of a nation too. Social, cultural, political, economic and religious contexts determine the tacit narratives of an archive. One should make these contexts transparent, maybe even visible, as one tries in a museum to re-enact the context in which the artifact was made" (136?37).

5. DVD titles with restoration demonstrations as of February 2005: Criterion: Alexander Nevsky, Amarcord, L'Avventura, Beauty and the Beast (Cocteau, both pressings), Brief Encounters, Children of Paradise, The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie, A Generation (April 2005), Gimme Shelter, . . . And God Created Woman, The Grand Illusion, The Lady Vanishes, M (December 2004 release), Nights of Cabiria, The Passion of Joan of Arc, Il Posto, The Rules of the Game, The Seven Samurai (first ed. only), The Seventh Seal, Shadows, Spartacus, and The Third Man. Fox Studio Classics: All About Eve, Anastasia, The Day the Earth Stood Still, The Diary of Anne Frank, The Grapes of Wrath, The Inn of the Sixth Happiness, Leave Her to Heaven, A Letter to Three Wives, Love Is a Many Splendored Thing, The Ox-Bow Incident, Return to Peyton Place, The Song of Bernadette, and Three Coins in a Fountain. Marilyn Monroe Diamond Collection (I and II): Bus Stop, Don't Bother to Knock, Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, How to Marry a Millionaire, Let's Make Love, Monkey Business, Niagara, River of No Return, The Seven Year Itch, and There's No Business Like Show Business. Walt Disney: Bambi, Pollyanna, Sleeping Beauty, and Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. Others: Akira, Blue Sunshine, Caesar and Cleopatra (U.K.), Citizen Kane, Civil War?A Film by Ken Burns, Doctor Who: The Tomb of the Cybermen, La Dolce Vita (Italy, United States), Drunken Master 2 (U.K.), Encounters of the Spooky Kind (Hong Kong), The Eternal Frame, Fallen Angels (Australia), The Flight of the Phoenix, The General (France), Gone with the Wind, The Good, the Bad & the Ugly (extended version), Grave of the Fireflies, A Hard Day's Night (MPI release), The Hills Have Eyes (U.K., United States), Journey to the Center of the Earth, Laura (Fox Film Noir), Lawrence of Arabia, Lost Horizon, M (U.K./Germany, with two documentaries), The Man Who Laughs (Kino release), Mash, Meet John Doe (U.K.), Metropolis (Germany, U.K., United States), My Fair Lady, Nureyev's Don Quixote, One Million Years B.C., Ran: Masterworks Edition, Robinson Crusoe (Bu?uel), Roman Holiday, Romper Stomper, The Hills Have Eyes, The Kids Are Alright, The Sherlock Holmes Collection (vol. 2), The Stranger/The Trial (single release), Transformers (season 1), Z. [End Page 28]

6. Kaufman wrote in 2003, "While digital processes can fix frames that cannot be repaired photochemically, the cost of scanning an entire film into the digital realm for a frame-by-frame correction remains largely out of reach." With slightly different 2002 numbers, Bloom estimates black-and-white feature costs at $25,000 to $50,000, while color restoration is priced considerably higher, ranging from $150,000 to $250,000.

7. Derrida writes: "The death drive is above all anarchivic, one could say, or archiviolithic. It will always have been archive-destroying, by silent vocation. . . . And the death drive. Without this evil, which is also archive fever, the desire and the disorder of the archive, there would be neither assignation nor consignation. For assignation is a consignation" (10, 12).

8. Thus, our critical task as DVD viewers with archive fever is archaeology. Michel Foucault writes: "Archaeology . . . designates the general theme of a description that questions the already-said at the level of its existence: of the enunciative function that operates within it, of the discursive formation, and the general archive system to which it belongs. Archaeology describes discourses as practices specified in the element of the archive" (131).

9. According to Anne J. Gilliland-Swetland, the principles of the archival paradigm include "the sanctity of evidence; respect des fonds, provenance, and original order; the life cycle of records; the organic nature of records; and hierarchy in records and their descriptions." Digitalization challenges each of these topoi at the level of practice and technique.

10. Koerber supervised both M and Metropolis restorations; he is interviewed for demonstrations on both DVDs. Note: Criterion released a 1998 DVD restoration of M made with inferior elements. However, after the Koerber restoration, Criterion announced a new Region 1 NTSC release of M utilizing work done by Koerber. This is a two-disc DVD set released in December 2004; it includes a valuable extra titled "A Physical History of M."

11. As the BAVC website www.bavc.org/classes/dvd/preservation.htm reads: "PLAYBACK is an interactive DVD that invites users to view the technical practices of video preservation and to experience the complex decision-making process artists, conservators and video engineers engage in when the reconstruction of video artwork occurs. PLAYBACK contains: Analog Video Basics: animations that depict the composition of analog videotape, demonstrate the chemical process of tape deterioration and how the video signal works[;] The Preservation Case Study: example of the real-life preservation process of the artwork[;] The Eternal Frame: a video art piece jointly produced by art collectives Ant Farm and T.R. Uthco in 1976."

12. Heather Lyon Weaver is the online editor in this demonstration. She makes physical changes to the video document, informing the artists about different possibilities the technology allows to digitally edit the image.

13. Also, this DVD is pricey at $50 and can only be directly purchased from BAVC.

14. While reconstruction seems an aggressive word to use in this restoration context, this is nonetheless how the BAVC DVD categorizes the film, presenting the word as a banner across the top of a split screen comparison.

15. A Korean Region 3 NTSC two-disc DVD set of La Dolce Vita was also issued using the same transfer as the Italian release in 2004 but with a different set of DVD extras for the second disc. I do not discuss it in this article because it does not include a restoration demonstration.

16. The Italian release is distributed by Medusa, but the restoration demonstration is produced by Mediaset, which is the company ostensibly responsible for restoration. Hence, I refer only to Mediaset in this description. For a detailed comparison of the discrete DVD restorations rather than the restoration demonstrations see www.dvdbeaver.com/film/DVDCompare5/dolcevita.htm, which includes detailed frame analysis. They draw the conclusion that while the image is better on the Italian release, the DVD extras are better on the American version.

17. Cinema Forever is also the name of the entire ongoing film restoration project by Mediaset, which has restored many Italian masterpieces, many of which Enzo Verzini reportedly worked on. Of particular note, restorations of Fellini films like Juliet of the Spirits and 8 1/2have been used by Criterion in their DVD releases. Cinema Forever is a general promotional restoration documentary used on a variety of Mediaset's DVD releases. It markets a cultural archive of memory and national identity instead of particular restoration efforts.

18. James Kendrick makes this conclusion about Criterion DVDs in particular, although I think it has more to do with the architectural capabilities of the DVD format in general.

19. With respect to the inevitability of analog decay, David Chute writes: "The defining act of film preservation used to be copying films from nitrate to another film stock that was judged to be more chemically stable, more 'archival.' . . . Whatever form the deterioration takes, however, traditional 'analog' preservation methods offer only a temporary fix; additional ways to fend off the inevitable. Copying a movie periodically from one piece of fresh stock to another and another, can extend a film's projectable lifespan, but not forever. The act of copying itself introduces new forms of incremental, mortal degradation. . . . You realize that by duplicating in an analog fashion you're going to lose resolution every time. Which means that when we lose the original negative?and we realize that eventually we will lose it, no matter how careful we are?we will have inalterably lost that original achievement. We may put this day off for 500 years, or 1,000 years, but eventually the system has to fail, because of the inherent limitations of analog duplication."

20. For a list of DVD titles in the Criterion Collection see www.criterionco.com.

21. Kendrick describes how Criterion DVDs accomplish their sign of archival authority: "The collection posits itself as an archive of archives. While [Peter] Becker has noted that the goal of the Criterion Collection as a whole is 'that of providing a film archive for the home viewer' (Crowdus 49), he has also noted that each individual film within the collection is an archive itself: 'Our goal is to make a disc that is the closest thing we can to a film archive for the home viewer' (Doogan). These individual filmic archives, 'the annotated movie,' include a wealth of extratextual materials that must be tracked down in museums, libraries, film archives, film societies, and the homes of the filmmakers themselves, and then secured for inclusion. This is often a difficult and laborious task, but it is the inclusion of such extras that has defined and separated Criterion from other home-video producers, which often produce so-called special-edition DVDs that contain little more than promotional materials" (125).

22. Kendrick claims that the Criterion Collection achieves legitimacy as a cultural archive by overcoming three structuring limitations of traditional archives, spelled out by William Uricchio in "Archives and Absences." Kendrick argues that Criterion manages to maneuver around these obstacles, pointing Criterion away from [End Page 29] the "film as art" paradigm. The three types of structuring limitations are (1) "Overt policies which restrict access to otherwise available material"; (2) "Overt policies which define and restrict the very collection of material"; and (3) "General historical filtration processes which, by preserving some records and ignoring others, shape the archival record every bit as effectively if far less overtly" (Uricchio 256). Kendrick writes: "Although it is necessarily impossible to gather a comprehensive archive that includes every text worthy of inclusion, the Criterion Collection does the next best thing by varying its archive across all preconceived boundaries. Though not every text can be included, virtually every kind of text has been, which results in an archive of films as culture" (135).

23. Peter Becker remarks further on the "film as art" paradigm: "It's more than respect. There is a level of worship that we reserve for certain art works in the world. For the 'Mona Lisa,' for example, people come from continents around to stare at it from a distance behind a glass case, and somehow being in its presence is considered a privilege in its own right. That's very much the attitude that we take toward the negative that passed through the camera that Ingmar Bergman looked through when he shot Max von Sydow on the beach in The Seventh Seal. If your mission is to treat those films as the art works that they are, you try to give them the very best treatment that you can. If you really do excellent work on a consistent basis, and you're lavishing that work on films that deserve it, people do appreciate it. That's more or less our business plan" (Crowdus 48).

24. Kendrick concludes similarly that Criterion bestows cultural legitimacy on otherwise unhailed films, evidence of its archival authority. Our opinions differ in how Criterion achieves its authority.

25. Gary Crowdus interviewed Criterion's Peter Becker in 1999. With respect to the DVD audio restoration of The Passion of Joan of Arc, Becker describes the dilemma negotiating auteurintent and consumer expectations: "We know that Dreyer had not approved of any of the scores that over time had been written for the film. . . . One of the reasons that The Passion of Joan of Arc was never presented on video was that no distributor was willing to show it silent, although that was really the way Dreyer wanted it to be seen. On the Criterion DVD, the first option on the menu is to play the film silent, and there is an explanation that if you want to see the film as Dreyer intended it, this is the way you should watch it. On the other hand, we went to enormous lengths to make it possible to include another extraordinary art work, Richard Einhorn's oratorio, 'Voices of Light,' which was not written as a score for The Passion of Joan but as music inspired by the film. Richard saw the film and over the next ten years became obsessed with its images. He began working through medieval texts, particularly those about women mystics of the era, and wrote this stunning piece that has been performed a number of times with the film, including at Lincoln Center. For this video release, Richard worked with a sound engineer to remix it for five-channel surround sound, so this may be the most overproduced silent film DVD anybody's ever come up with" (48?49).

Works Cited

Becker, Peter. Interview with Neda Ulaby. "Criterion DVD Collection." National Public Radio. 12 June 2004. www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=1956135. Accessed 15 November 2004.

Bloom, David. "Preservationists Make Gains while Grappling with Digital Print Dilemma." Variety 22 July 2002: 13.

Chute, David. "Film Preservation at the (Digital) Crossroads." Hungry Ghost Productions Homepage. www.geocities.com/Tokyo/Island/3102/f-prez.htm. Accessed 15 November 2004.

"Cinema Forever (Restoration Demonstration)." La Dolce Vita. Dir. Federico Fellini. 1960. DVD. Italy: Medusa/Mediaset, 2003.

Crowdus, Gary. "Providing a Film Archive for the Home Viewer: An Interview with Peter Becker of the Criterion Collection." Cineaste 25.1 (1999): 47?50.

Derrida, Jacques. Archive Fever: A Freudian Impression. Trans. Eric Prenowitz. Chicago: U of Chicago P, 1996.

Doland, Angela. "Chaplin's 'Modern Times'Gets Restoration." AP Online 27 May 2003. www.backstage.com/backstage/features/article_display.jsp?vnu_content_id=1896613. Accessed 15 November 2004.

Doogan, Todd. "Inside the Criterion Collection: A Conversation with Peter Becker, President of the Criterion Collection." Digital Bits 27 February 2000. www.thedigitalbits.com/articles/criterionpb.html. Accessed 21 February 2005.

Edmondson, Ray. "Is Film Archiving a Profession?" Film History 7 (1995): 245?55.

Foucault, Michel. Archaeology of Knowledge. Trans. A. M. Sheridan Smith. New York: Pantheon Books, 1972.

Friedlander, Amy. Summary. U.S. Library of Congress. Building a National Strategy for Digital Preservation: Issues in Digital Media Archiving. DC: CLIR; DC: LoC, April 2002. 1?8.

Gilliland-Swetland, Anne J. "Enduring Paradigm, New Opportunities: The Value of the Archival Perspective in the Digital Environment." DC: CLIR, February 2000. www.clir.org/pubs/reports/pub89/contents.html. Accessed 15 November 2004.

Kaufman, Debra. "Film Restoration: Some Timeless CinematicClassics Get a Face-Lift?Just in Time for a New TheatricalRun or Long-Awaited DVD Debut." Hollywood Reporter.com 16 December 2003. www.hollywoodreporter.com/thr/film/feature_display.jsp?vnu_content_id=2053173. Accessed 15 November 2004.

Kendrick, James. "What Is the Criterion? The Criterion Collection as an Archive of Film as Culture." Journal of Film and Video 53.2?3 (2001): 124?39.

Ketelaar, Eric. "Tacit Narratives: The Meanings of Archives." Archival Science 1 (2001): 131?41.

Klein, Joshua. "Criterion Picks up the Pace: Its Latest Array of Dvds Don't Compromise Quality." Chicago Tribune 30 November 2004, Special to the Tribune: 3.

Koerber, Martin. "The Restoration of M." M. Dir. Fritz Lang. 1931. DVD. United Kingdom: Eureka, 2003.

???. "Before?After: Metropolis as an Example for Film Restoration." Metropolis. Dir. Fritz Lang. 1927. DVD. Kino, 2003.

Manovich, Lev. The Language of New Media. Cambridge: MIT P, 2001.

National Film Preservation Foundation. The Film Preservation Guide: The Basics for Libraries, Archives, and Museums. San Francisco: National Film Preservation Foundation, 2004.

PLAYBACK: Preserving Analog Video. Prod. Bay Area Video Coalition, [End Page 30] San Francisco. DVD. BAVC, 2003.

"Restoration Demonstration." La Dolce Vita. Dir. Federico Fellini. 1960. DVD. United States: Koch Lorber, 2004.

Snider, Mike. "We've Lost Something with Home Video, Bertolucci Says." USA Today 3 February 2005. www.usatoday.com/life/movies/news/2005-02-03-bertolucci-dvd_x.htm. Accessed 9 February 2005.

Uricchio, William. "Archives and Absences." Film History 7 (1995): 256?63.

Usai, Paolo Cherchi. The Death of Cinema: History, Cultural Memory and the Digital Dark Age. London: BFI, 2001.

 

Comments





    visions :: homes :: register :: forgot password
kyberka  ars morta universum  Web Independant Manifesto