Synopsis by Clarke Fountain
Henri Langois almost single-handedly preserved the film heritage of France--and the world--from destruction by time and neglect. This documentary examines the history of Langois' preservation efforts, and includes clips of films he has saved as well as interviews with the man himself. In 1936, together with Georges Franju, Langois formed the Cinémathèque Française. Because of his efforts, and regular viewings in Cinémathèque's screening rooms, French cinema emerged from World War II vibrant and healthy. Among the individuals his efforts directly benefitted were Jean-Luc Godard, François Truffaut, Claude Chabrol and Jacques Demy. Cinémathèque Française eventually received considerable government assistance, and became one of the cultural crown jewels of France. When the Minister of Culture tried to replace Langois in 1968, using the threat of ending government subsidies, protests broke out throughout France, and the police were called out to quell riots in Paris. François Truffaut closed down the Cannes Film Festival in protest. Prominent filmmakers throughout the world added their voices to the outcry, and the government was forced to back down. The film also shows pilgrimages by Raoul Walsh, Akira Kurosawa, King Vidor and other legendary filmmakers to visit this revered archivist.
film-industry, filmmaker, archival-footage, France, cinema, culture [social culture], retrospective