Universal Announces More Silent Film Restorations, Hollywood Reporter Doesn’t Know What Silent Films Are

At a recent screening of their restoration of the 1928 silent film The Man Who Laughs, Universal announced that it will be continuing its silent movie restoration project (first announced in 2015) by restoring another ten silent films over the next few years. This is, of course, welcome news to film fans, especially to fans of film history.

In a statement released on Wednesday, Michael Daruty, senior vice president global media operations of NBCUniversal, stated “These early pioneers crafted the foundation of filmmaking and we are proud that our restoration efforts enable their work to be shared with today’s audiences. We take the stewardship of this cultural legacy very seriously, and feel it is not only our responsibility but also our privilege to preserve these films for future generations.”

There was no word on which movies would be part of the restoration project, but Universal’s previous efforts have led to new prints of films such as Outside the Law, Oh, Doctor!, The Last Warning, and Sensation Seekers.

Now, I know that none of the above titles are blockbusters, and they’re not going to have audiences beating down the doors of their local multiplex to see them, but I still believe they are an important part of our shared history and legacy, not just filmically, but culturally. These movies help to give us a sense not just of what entertained us in the past, but who we were.

I was, however, taken aback a bit when I read this article about the project from the Hollywood Reporter website when they stated “Since 2012, Universal’s silent film initiative has led to the restoration of 78 films, including major titles like Dracula (1931), Frankenstein, Jaws, Schindler’s List, Out of Africa, The Sting, To Kill a Mockingbird, Double Indemnity, Holiday Inn, Spartacus and Cleopatra..”

Ummm.. yeah. It’s true that Universal has produced new restorations of these movies, and they are definitely worthy of preservation, but none of them are silent films. Now, Katie Kilkenny, who wrote the article probably knows this, and was likely just taking the info from a press release, but still, considering the prestige of THR, one would expect a bit better.

Ah, well. It’s still good news, and I do look forward to seeing the results of these efforts, and just wish some of the other studios would join in the effort to preserve our film heritage.

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