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Interview with the British Film Institute

By BBC History
The green and red stained film
The green and red stained film 

Where is an archive of this size found, and how do you restore it? Jan Faull, archive producer at the bfi, explains.

Discovering the archive

How did the bfi discover the archive?

'...the journey itself is an amazing social record of life in the 1920s...'

Claude's son donated the original material to the bfi National Film and Television Archive in the late 1950s. It wasn't until some years later that its true importance was recognised and work began to contextualise and understand the films.

What kind of state were the films in?

The original material was in the form of unedited negative - two colour successive frame negative to be precise. This was a challenge in terms of preservation and creating new material to view and catalogue, but fortunately the films were in pretty good condition.

Why is the 'Open Road' archive significant?

It is important on two levels. Firstly, the content makes it one of the most interesting records we have of moving image shot using a pioneering colour system developed by a British filmmaker. Secondly, the journey itself is an amazing social record of life in the 1920s, a period only just within living memory. Capturing moments of our history on moving image in this way is priceless and hugely important to the preservation of the UK's film and social heritage.

Published: 2007-04-18

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