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The art of not forgetting: towards a practical hermeneutics of film restoration

Pescetelli, M.; (2011) The art of not forgetting: towards a practical hermeneutics of film restoration. Doctoral thesis , UCL (University College London). Green open access

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The main aim of the thesis is to develop a definition of film restoration, both in its intrinsic properties and in relation to the restoration of traditional, non-reproducible works of art. Concentrating on films made between 1914 and 1931, it takes as its theoretical starting point Walter Benjamin’s 1936 essay The Work of Art in the Age of its Technological Reproducibility and moves towards a framework incorporating Hans- Georg Gadamer’s ontological hermeneutics and Umberto Eco’s reflections on forgery. It includes four case studies of restoration of Italian colour films as well as a systematic comparison between approaches to the restoration of works of art (Cesare Brandi, Michele Cordaro and others) and those to the restoration of films (Mark-Paul Meyer, João de Oliveira, GAMMA group and others). Different types of source are used to address practical issues in film restoration: technical documents (acquired in NFTALondon and CN-Rome), published, visual and oral sources. The latter consist of interviews with the main restorers involved in the case study projects (de Oliveira, Mario Musumeci, Johan Prijs) and other important scholars and restorers (Paolo Cherchi Usai, Martin Koerber, Nicola Mazzanti, Meyer). The thesis is divided into four chapters. The first introduces theoretical reflections on restoration applied to films and clarifies a number of terminological issues as well as providing a brief historical overview of the causes of dispersal and destruction of films. The second presents the four case studies and concentrates on specific aspects of film restoration: identification, colour, editorial restoration. The third addresses two key issues in restoration practices – patina and lacuna – and compares the differences in treatment between traditional arts (painting, sculpture, architecture) and cinema. The last, theoretical chapter defines a restored film from a semiotic viewpoint and offers a definition of film restoration as a hermeneutic discipline.

Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Title: The art of not forgetting: towards a practical hermeneutics of film restoration
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
Language: English
UCL classification:
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/1302399
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