Fragments: Surviving Pieces of Lost Films (2011 TV Movie)
Mike Mashon: Thank you for spending a fragment of your time with us.
Michael Pogorzelski: We're all used to going to the theater and seeing previews of coming attractions before the feature. They're still known as trailers. But, what most movie-goers don't realize, this is a hold over from the days when previews were actually shown at the end of the feature.
Michael Pogorzelski: Contrary to popular belief, film is not forever. The fundamental nature of film and new digital technologies used to capture movies requires constant care and vigilance.
Mike Mashon: Up until 1951, movies were shot on nitrate film stock. Nitrate is dangerous and flammable and deteriorates into a sticky goo and eventually fine powder. This is the primary reason almost 90 per cent of films from the silent era are lost forever.
Michael Pogorzelski: The films themselves were viewed as a safety hazard and nitrate fires resulted in a loss of film, property, and, in some cases, human life. The effort of film archives to collect and then copy nitrate films onto modern non-flammable film stock have saved many titles from oblivion. Nevertheless, the survival rate remains frightfully low.
Mike Mashon: In many cases, the complete film may not survive; but, only a small portion, such as a single reel or a few scenes, still exist. Sometimes the coming attractions trailer for a film survives, while the feature itself does not. As we'll see latter. Still, each fragment is a window into our cultural past and a fleeting glimpse of a movie that no longer exist in it's entirety.
Michael Pogorzelski: Its almost impossible to think about the world as we know it without the movies. We can all conjure up images in our minds with the mere mention of an actor or a title. Even if we haven't see the movies, we recognize Harold Lloyd hanging from the clock or the ruby slippers from the Wizard of Oz.
Michael Pogorzelski: Without being able to see the complete film, its often hard to understand what all the fuss was about. For instance, in 1915 Theda Bara was an overnight sensation upon the release of her first film, "A Fool There Was". She became famous as the Vamp and her command, "Kiss me, my fool", from her first film, became a popular catch-phrase. In essence, she was silent screen's first sex symbol. Making more than 40 films between 1914 and 1919, of which only two are known to survive.