ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — The George Eastman Museum has now released 23 digitized movies, all of them originally on film. All of them are free to view on their website, and most of them feature an introduction as well.
Some of the pieces include documentaries, over a dozen test — including some from the iconic movie “Gone With the Wind” — and even a film about Eastman Kodak Company that was made in Rochester.
“We know that viewing these films on a computer or handheld device is not the way they were intended to be seen,” said Peter Bagrov, PhD, curator in charge, Moving Image Department of the Eastman Museum in a statement. “But for now, in an effort to provide some special cinematic experiences during this pandemic, we hope that you all enjoy the shows!”
Bagrov adds that this gives viewers an ability to appreciate the original format of the films, even if they are viewing it on a mobile device.
While he says that the truest way to watch any film — regardless if its on film or a digital file — is in the movie theater, Bagrov says that the most important task in the process of the digitization is to preserve the art.
“If a film is a work of art, then we don’t want to see a re-edited or re-drawn painting by Rembrandt or a play that Shakespeare or a novel by mark twain that’s been rewritten,” Bargov said. “If a work achieved its fame the way it looked or sounded, this is what is so great about it… Who are we to change it?”
A portion of the digitized films from the collection of documentarian Leo Hurwitz collection. Those 35 films, also include 61 cubic feet of documentation.
“Emergency Ward (US 1952) and The Young Fighter (US 1953) are groundbreaking documentaries, predecessors to direct cinema. Dancing James Berry (1958) is a record of one of the finest examples of African American social jazz dancing. Here at the Water’s Edge (1962) is a visual poem that grows more relevant today, in the context of climate change.”
Also included in the digitized films are studio executive David O. Selznick’s screen tests. Of particular note: “Technicolor tests of Vivien Leigh, Clark Gable, Olivia de Havilland (who died on July 26 at age 104), and Hattie McDaniel.
Highlights and Shadows (1937) is another film that is available for viewing. It was made for Kodak by James Sibley Watson Jr. and Ken Edwards.