CHAPLIN KEYSTONE RESTRATIONS

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Thierry G. Mathieu
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CHAPLIN KEYSTONE RESTRATIONS

Postby Thierry G. Mathieu » Sun Jan 22, 2012 9:30 am

I'd like to clarify a detail about the Chaplin Keystone Restorations by BFI/Cineteca di Bologna/LobsterFilms, due to the number of emails asking me if I was involved in the project.
The answer is no, even if I was in contact with people of the concerned Film Archives, and meet some of them in Film Archives or film festivals. Perhaps the confusion comes from the choice of titles of the DVD editions. For the US one the main title is the same than the one of my web site (Chaplin at Keystone), and for the french edition the main titles is not "Chaplin a la Keystone" nor "Chaplin chez Keystone", but strangely "La Naissance de Charlot", the very same title than my magazine.
I have the greatest respect for the restoration work, mainly in terms of picture quality. Most of copies are now very beautiful, and in their original 1.33 aspect ratio. That's a fact ! BUT (because there is a but ‒ or many), all the films are still incompletes, and many of them more than in our old VHS or 16mm. I will not quote 35 examples (all details, and illustrations, in the issues 22, 23 and 24 of my magazine) but just one of a short film I have just finished to re-study, Caught in the Rain. The restoration contains exactly 29 missing elements, making this version the most degraded reissue ever published. In this case, like for many others, it is quite difficult to understand how they proceed to reconstruct the original film. Some other films too have numerous cuts in shots, or (and) contain errors with titles, or repeated frames twice; etc.
If picture quality of the restorations is very good (with few exceptions), there is something to be very disappointed with the reconstruction work. In fact, all the real work to be done... What a shame for a project that cost several million of euros !

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