Gucci backs film restoration for special 68th Cannes Film Festival presentation

5/5/2015 12:00:00 AM

Gucci celebrates its continued commitment to the preservation and restoration of classic cinema, through its ten-year collaboration with Martin Scorsese's The Film Foundation. This year will see the Italian fashion house's collaborative work with the foundation, revive a restoration of Luchino Visconti's Rocco e i suoi fratelli, originally made in 1960, at the annual Cannes Film Festival as part of the festival's 'Cannes Classics' programme. 

Gucci was inspired to make a multi-million dollar commitment to The Film Foundation for the restoration of iconic and innovative films, ten years ago, thanks to a shared interest and appreciation of creative visionaries. Artistic filmmakers such as John Cassavetes, Sergio Leone and Federico Fellini are favourites of the luxury heritage fashion house that appreciates the bold and daring artistry and genre-redefining works of these directors and others like them. 

The restoration of Rocco e i suoi fratelli, will debut at the Cannes Film Festival on May 17 after an introduction from Benicio Del Toro, who is an avid supporter of the continued work of The Film Foundation and Gucci: "There are so many great films from the past that have inspired me and continue to inform and fuel my work. It's important to support the preservation of these films so that future generations can experience their power and artistry. And Visconti was certainly one of the great cinematic visionaries," says Del Toro.

The 1960 film examines the effects that the industrial and economic boom (that was transforming Italy at that time,) had on the country, through following the eponimois Rocco and his brothers. It is the story of how this new world – represented by Milan city life –impacts a poor rural family. Martin Scorsese says: "Rocco is one of the most sumptuous black and white pictures I've ever seen: the images, shot by the great Giuseppe Rotunno, are pearly, elegant and lustrous – it's like a simultaneous continuation and development of neorealism. Thanks to Gucci and The Film Foundation and our friends at the Cineteca di Bologna, Luchino Visconti's masterpiece can be experienced once again in all its fearsome beauty and power."


Christopher Nolan Joins Film Foundation Board

Dave McNary, Variety

4/22/2015 12:00:00 AM

Christopher Nolan has joined the board of The Film Foundation, Martin Scorsese's non-profit film preservation organization. 

Scorsese, the founder and chair of the organization, noted that Nolan has been a longtime advocate of sustaining celluloid film in the digital era.

“Chris’s passion, knowledge and dedication to film is unparalleled,” he said. “He spearheaded the growing movement to ensure that film stock continues to be available for production and preservation. I know that his commitment to film and its preservation will be enormously helpful to the work of the foundation.”

Nolan’s “Interstellar” opened first at 240 film-using theaters in the U.S. last November, two days prior to its wide release in theaters using digital projection. Nolan shot the movie with a combination of 35mm anamorphic film and 65mm Imax.

“I’m honored to become a part of the pioneering and essential work of Martin Scorsese’s Film Foundation,” Nolan said. “The Foundation’s mission is more important today than ever before. I hope I can help with this vital effort.”

Current Film Foundation board members are Woody Allen, Paul Thomas Anderson, Wes Anderson, Francis Ford Coppola, Clint Eastwood, Curtis Hanson, Peter Jackson, Ang Lee, George Lucas, Alexander Payne, Robert Redford and Steven Spielberg. The Film Foundation is also aligned with the Directors Guild of America.

“Christopher’s knowledge and advocacy for film preservation on behalf of filmmakers round out an impassioned board that has achieved such significant milestones throughout the years, and will assure that this critical work is carried into the future,” said DGA president Paris Barclay.



Martin Scorsese: my passion for the humour and panic of Polish cinema

Martin Scorsese, The Guardian

4/16/2015 12:00:00 AM

As for many other people, my introduction to Polish cinema came with Andrzej Wajda’s trilogy: Ashes and Diamonds, Kanal and A Generation – actually, they were released out of order here in the US, and we saw Kanal first, followed quickly by Ashes, both in 1961, and then we got to see A Generation later. Among the three, it was Ashes and Diamonds that had the greatest impact on me. It announced the arrival of a master film-maker. It was one of the last pictures that gave us a real testament of the impact of the war, on Wajda and on his nation. It introduced us to a whole school of film-making, related to what was coming out of the Soviet Union but quite distinct. And it gave us Zbigniew Cybulski, a great actor and a new generational icon.

But all Wajda’s films made an impression on me. Whenever I had the opportunity to see one I was impressed by his mastery. I also loved Jerzy Kawalerowicz’s films: Night Train, Mother Joan of the Angels and in particular Pharaoh, which had a fresh approach to the historical picture. Wojciec Has’s films, The Hourglass Sanatorium and later The Saragossa Manuscript, really astonished me. Andrzej Munk I caught up with a little later, plus, of course,Jerzy Skolimowski and Roman Polanski’s early pictures. The 50s and 60s were a great time in Polish cinema. A great time in cinema, period.


With Polish cinema, what I especially respond to is the mixture of passion, meticulous craftsmanship, dynamic deep focal-length compositions, moral dilemmas and religious conflicts, often done with a very sharp sense of humour. Humour and tragedy are very close in Polish cinema.

Plus, the struggle against official censorship and government clampdowns gives Polish cinema that was made during the communist era a heightened urgency. You can feel it in the rhythm, the intensity, even in pictures that have no obvious political subject matter. Or, in pictures that take the then-contemporary political situation and transpose it to an earlier period. For instance, Danton by Wajda, which he made in France during the Solidarity period in the early 1980s. There’s a restlessness, an unease, a desperation, an existential panic.

Many Polish film-makers spent some time in exile. Polanski left very early. Skolimowski has gone back and forth during the years. They adapted very well to the circumstances, wherever they went. But such a condition goes way beyond Polish cinema. What would the history of American cinema have been without the flood of directors from Europe in the 1920s through the 40s? Fritz LangErich von StroheimFW MurnauErnst LubitschRobert Siodmak,Michael CurtizJacques FeyderEdgar G UlmerFred ZinnemannJulien DuvivierMax ReinhardtWilliam DieterleAlfred HitchcockMax OphülsJean Renoir, and on and on and on. Obviously, exile creates a very different perspective on the country in which you end up making films. Take Polanski’sChinatown. It’s impossible to imagine an American-born director making that picture. You can imagine a version of it, but not the finished film we know as Chinatown.


This unique perspective stretches even to the movie posters. I own quite a few myself. They can seem odd to non-Polish viewers. Sometimes you look at them and wonder: what bearing does this image have on this picture? And then you see that there’s a rare place for cinema in the culture itself, because the relationship between the films and their posters is so unique. Most often, they capture the concept of the film itself.

Martin Scorsese Presents: Masterpieces of Polish Cinemaruns at BFI Southbank and Edinburgh Filmhouse until the end of May as part of the Kinoteka Polish film festival and then tours UK venues

The Guardian


An even more enchanting 'Tales of Hoffmann' after restoration

Susan King, Los Angeles Times

3/11/2015 12:00:00 AM

Martin Scorsese said it was a big influence on his films "Taxi Driver" and "Raging Bull." George Romero, director of the seminal zombie thriller "Night of the Living Dead," said it was the reason he became a filmmaker.

The "it" in question is Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger's Technicolor masterpiece "The Tales of Hoffmann," which has entranced and influenced filmmakers since its release in 1951.

"Ten Commandments" director Cecil B. DeMille wrote the British filmmakers in 1952, telling Powell and Pressburger: "For the first time in my life I was treated to Grand Opera where the beauty, power and scope of the music was equally matched by the visual presentation."

In their beloved 1948 Technicolor film "The Red Shoes," Powell and Pressburger presented a story of love and art set in the world of ballet. In "Tales of Hoffmann," which was shot in just 17 days, they innovatively blended ballet with opera.

Except for singers Robert Rounseville, who plays Hoffmann, and Ann Ayars, who plays Antonia, the directors cast noted ballet dancers such as Moira Shearer from "The Red Shoes," Frederick Ashton (who also created most of the choreography), Robert Helpmann, Léonide Massine and Ludmilla Tchérina to bring this adaptation of Jacques Offenbach's 1881 opera to life.

The dancers lip-synced to a recorded score conducted by Thomas Beecham and performed by opera singers.

"They were just out there with his," said longtime Scorsese film editor Thelma Schoonmaker, who was married to Powell from 1984 until his death in 1990. "It was a gutsy decision instead of using real opera singers to use dancers because of their dramatic movements."

" 'Tales of Hoffmann' was a daring and bold thing to try," said Margaret Bodde, executive director of the Film Foundation, which Scorsese began 25 years ago to preserve and restore motion pictures. "The film is like an experimental film. If you read the description of the production, you wouldn't have imagined it would have come out as well. It holds your interest in a way that you wouldn't imagine a film like this would. "

Now, 64 years after its initial release, "Tales of Hoffmann" has been digitally restored by the Film Foundation and the BFI National Archive in association with Studiocanal. Scorsese, Schoonmaker and Ned Price, vice president of mastering for Warner Bros. technical operations, supervised the restoration work, which was completed by Warner Bros. Motion Picture Imaging.

This restoration, which opens Friday for a weeklong run at Cinefamily at the Silent Movie Theatre in Los Angeles, brings out all the detail in Hein Heckroth's lush production and costume design and Christopher Challis' vivid Technicolor cinematography. The new version also includes six minutes of footage that was cut before its original release, as well as an epilogue.

The original 35-millimeter Technicolor three-strip nitrate camera negative and 35-millimeter original soundtrack negative from the British Film Institute vaults were used for the restoration. The material for the added footage was also discovered at BFI.

Those involved with the Film Foundation Technicolor restorations of Powell-Pressburger's "The Red Shoes" and "The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp" from 1943 had to contend with mold on the original negatives. But that wasn't the case with "Tales of Hoffmann."

"It was in quite good condition," Price said. "We dealt with the normal shrinkage, which is inevitable with film. Over time, they lose moisture. They shrink and they warp differently. But we aligned the three strips, and they matched perfectly."

Schoonmaker, who also supervised the restoration of "Red Shoes" and "Blimp," said the team was "very lucky that we could concentrate on the color and the detail instead of having to spend a lot of money on cracks and mold and dirt."

For years, fans of the film have talked about missing footage, Schoonmaker said.

"Scorsese and I didn't know what that was," she said. "Finally, when we started getting all the elements together, the woman at the British Film Institute scoured the vaults and found the missing six minutes."

That footage involved a dramatic and critical sequence in the third act in which Hoffmann has fallen in love with the young opera singer Antonia, who has consumption and whose conductor father has forbidden her to see Hoffmann or to sing.

The film's producer Alexander Korda hated the third act, Schoonmaker said.

"He wanted it cut entirely, and Michael refused," she said. "The assistant editor was in the room when this conversation took place, and she personally told me that Korda threatened Michael with ruin if he didn't drop the entire third act. So as some sort of comprise, they chopped those six minutes out, and it really ruined the third act."

Everyone was surprised, though, when they saw the epilogue footage, which is a curtain call in which the dancers are paired with the opera singers who sang their parts. The sequence had no sound, so the team added music and applause over the sequence.

"I said, 'We have to use it, it's so fascinating,' " Schoonmaker said. "I'm sure they wanted it in the film. It's so witty.

The Film Foundation's Bodde said the epilogue is one of her favorite parts of "Tales of Hoffmann."

"It lends such a note of whimsy and the creative spontaneity that you always feel in a Powell- Pressburger film," she said.

Schoonmaker, who is in Taiwan working on Scorsese's new film "Silence," will appear via Skype after the 6:30 p.m. Saturday screening at the Cinefamily.



'The Tales of Hoffmann'

What: Thelma Schoonmaker, who helped to oversee restoration of the 1951 film, will appear via Skype for a discussion after a screening of the film

When: 6:30 p.m. Saturday

Where: Cinefamily at the Silent Movie Theatre, 611 N. Fairfax Ave., Los Angeles

Admission: $12

Info: (323) 655-2510, 

Copyright © 2015, Los Angeles Times



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