Unique Discovery During the Restoration of Karel Zeman Film: After nearly 60 years audiences can again see lost footage from the film Invention for Destruction
11. 7. 2015
During work on the digital restoration of the film Invention for Destruction by Karel Zeman restorers made a unique and unexpected discovery: they found lost footage from the original movie! A significant scene, the existence of which no one knew about until recently, was thus restored to the movie after almost 60 years. Audiences was be able to see it first at the world premiere of the restored film which took place 10. 7. 2015 at 20:00 concurrently at the KVIFF in Karlovy Vary, on Czech TV, at the World EXPO 2015 in Turin and also in New York.
During work on the digital restoration of Invention for Destruction, as part of the Restoring the World of Fantasy project, restorers found a scene that is missing on all other available negatives. A shot of a clock depicting the Napoleonic eagle is part of this larger sequence, in which Professor Roch is deeply involved in proposals to construct his invention. "I leave it to the viewers to decide on the deeper meaning of this scene, but the scene takes place at a very crucial moment, when the inventor begins to realize to what ends his discovery could be used," commented James Mockoski, the American expert on digital restoration and guarantor of the restoration, on the importance of the scene.
"The goal of the digital restoration Invention for Destruction was to restore the film in such a way that the audience today can see it exactly as it was seen during its initial premiere," says the chief conservator Ivo Marák of company UPP. The original Prague premiere took place on 26 June 1958, shortly before the film was shown at the World Film Festival at Expo 58 in Brussels, where it won the Grand Prix and where this scene was discussed at the follow-up press conference. One American journalist interpreted it as anti-American. "Maybe the scene was cut to avoid giving offend when the film was sold into American distribution," says Mockoski, though any record or account of this are sadly lacking. "The real reason will probably never be revealed, but based on what we know, we took the right course to be to restore the scene to the movie, so now, for the first time since 1958 we can see Zeman's uncut version of the film," adds Mockoski who decided, together with a commission of experts, to return to the scene to the movie.
The digital restoration of Invention for Destruction was a challenging process, which brought together various experts. In the first phase of the restoration the film was transferred from celluloid film to digital data, a process which was carried out on special equipment at twice the resolution of the resulting film digital restoration. Subsequently, impurities were removed from each film frame in different ways and in several iterations, a procedure which took six months of intensive work. Overall, 117,288 film frames were cleared up, on which there were over 6 million impurities. After these technical adjustments, the film went to image color correction (a process necessary even in the restoration of black and white movies!), based on a reference copy of the film and on all available information from the period of the making of the film, so that the appearance of the restored film resembled as closely as possible the original film as created by Karel Zeman.
The next phase was the restoration of the film sound, which was carried out separately. Audio digitization was based on the original negative and period copies. First the most disturbing sound glitches were erased and then any remaining distortion removed. The sound was finalized in a certificated mixing hall. The result is sound that preserves the original audio format, but including equalization to enable a good acoustic over the entire hall.
The final phase of restoration took place in a film theater which meets the standards of today's digital cinema, so-called. DCI, which stands for the Digital Cinema Initiatives platform, which was established in 2002 as a joint venture of the major film companies: among others, Disney, Sony Pictures Entertainment, Fox, Paramount, Universal and Warner Bros. The result of this whole demanding process was a restored digital copy, or new master of Invention for Destruction, which will be used for the production of distribution masters that conform to internationally recognized specifications (DCI or the SMPTE standard, i.e. That set by The Society of Motion Picture and Television Engineers). These master will eventually be stored in a format that is suitable for the long-term archiving of films.
The digital restoration of the film Invention for Destruction is a part of Restoring the World of Fantasy, a joint project of The Czech Film Foundation, Karel Zeman Museum and Czech Television. The aim of the project is, within three years, to digitally restore selected films by Karel Zeman to the finest quality, to screen them in cinemas and bring them to life again. Project is realized with the financial support of the Ministry of Culture of the Czech Republic and the State Cinematography Fund.
Audience members can contribute to the digital restoration of Karel Zeman's other films, either by making a deposit to the Transparent Account 107-5652650247/0100 or by donating CZK 30 by sending the SMS: DMS BIJAKY to the number 87 777. You can also contribute to Restoring the World of Fantasy automatically every month for one year by sending the SMS: DMS ROK BIJAKY, again to the number 87 777.