Provocative polemic on digital media; Features foreword by Martin Scorsese, extract overleaf; It is estimated that about one and a half billion hours of moving images were produced in 1999, twice as many as a decade before. If that rate of growth continues, one hundred billion hours of moving images will be made in the year 2025. In 1895 there was just above forty minutes of moving images to be seen, and most of them are now preserved. Today, for every film made, thousands of them disappear forever without leaving a trace. Meanwhile, public and private institutions are struggling to save the film heritage with largely insufficient resources and ever increasing pressures from the commercial world. Are they wasting their time? Is the much feared and much touted Death of Cinema already occurring before our eyes? Is digital technology the solution to the problem, or just another illusion promoted by the industry? In a provocative essay designed as a collection of aphorisms and letters, the author brings an impassioned scrutiny to bear on these issues with a critique of film preservation, an indictiment of the crimes perpetuated in its name, and a proposal to give a new analytical framework to a major cultural phenomenon of our time.
Paolo Cherchi Usai is Senior Curator of the Motion Picture Department at George Eastman House and Director of the L. Jeffrey Selznick School of Film Preservation. He is the author of Burning Passions (bfi, 1994) which was published in a revised edition by the bfi in 2000, entitled Silent Cinema: An Introduction.