Saving Cinema, One Frame at a Time

Motion pictures are fragile things, but historic movies can be saved

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This year’s nominees for Best Picture are hard to ignore, with all the clips and interviews and speculation about who will win.  But what about the greatest movies from three years ago?  What about the films that drew audiences to the theaters 50, or 80 years ago?

Some of Hollywood’s best films from days of yore are disappearing.  Literally.

Despite being the highest grossing film of 1919, only three minutes of The Miracle Man starring Lon Chaney still exist. Potential masterpieces by the grandfather of special effects Georges Méliès were lost to decay, neglect and recycling.

“The largest part of the cultural heritage of 20th-century of America [is] deteriorating,” says Balazs Nyari, founder of film restoration company Cineric Inc.  Groups like Nyari’s and the Martin Scorsese-lead Film Foundation, however, are actively working to save motion pictures and keep that cultural heritage alive in the 21st century.