Synopsis by Mark Deming
It is estimated that 80% of all films released during the silent era have been lost forever, with no prints in existence today (a larger percentage of paintings from the Renaissance have survived), while some films from as little as 15 to 20 years ago have suffered color fading so severe they're all but unrecognizable now. The race by film historians to preserve and restore the essential artifacts of movie history is the subject of the documentary Keepers Of The Frame. Featuring interviews with subjects as diverse as Leonard Maltin, Debbie Reynolds and Stan Brakhage, Keepers Of The Frame addresses the need for a more careful preservation of America's cinematic legacy, one of the most important cultural and creative resources of this century, as well as showing how experts are restoring damaged and poorly-stored films -- as well as how much work remains to be done. The film also makes clear that obscure titles are not the only ones at risk, as we're shown severely damaged elements from Frank Capra's Meet John Doe and an early Al Jolson featurette in which the audio track has survived, but not the film itself.
preservation, artifact, cinema, film, filmmaker, restoration, silent-film