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How Criterion Restores a Warped Film

No two restoration projects are exactly the same. Here’s how the Criterion Collection restored a warped print of ‘The Man Who Knew Too Much.’
Criterion Restoration Essay
By  · Published on June 8th, 2020

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The damage on a reel of film tells a story. It tells us how a film was projected — if the print was well-loved, manhandled, or treated like a work of art (to be owned and never shown) — and how often. Damage can tell us how a film was stored, seen, and created, and it makes every film element unique. Which, in turn, means that no two restoration projects are ever exactly the same.

The following video from the Criterion Collection unpacks what it took to create a new digital restoration of Alfred Hitchcock‘s 1934 version of The Man Who Knew Too Much. Without an original negative to work from, the distributor was tasked with finding the next best thing: a high-quality film element as closely related to the original negative as possible. But, as the video demonstrates, a near-original, high-grain element does not necessarily an easy restoration make.

You can watch “The Man Who Knew Too Much – Restoration Demonstration” here:

Who made this?

This video was created by the fine folks over at Criterion Collection, the distribution house dedicated to gathering premiere films from around the world and publishing them in editions that offer the highest technical quality and award-winning, original supplements. You can browse the Criterion Collection’s physical media on their online shop here.

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Meg Shields is the humble farm boy of your dreams and a senior contributor at Film School Rejects. She currently runs three columns at FSR: The Queue, How'd They Do That?, and Horrorscope. She is also a curator for One Perfect Shot and a freelance writer for hire. Meg can be found screaming about John Boorman's 'Excalibur' on Twitter here: @TheWorstNun. (She/Her).