Now in its 17th year, MoMA’s annual celebration of film preservation, To Save and Project, features newly preserved and restored films from archives, studios, distributors, foundations and individual filmmakers around the world. This year’s program begins with the restoration premiere of two major silent films from MoMA’s archive: D. W. Griffith’s powerful drama Isn’t Life Wonderful (1924), filmed on location in postwar Germany, and Raoul Walsh’s Loves of Carmen (1927), a rowdy adaptation of Prosper Mérimée’s novella Carmen, which established Dolores del Rio as Hollywood’s first woman star of Mexican descent.
The program includes both discoveries, such as the two astonishingly inventive feature films directed by the forgotten French filmmaker Louis Valray in the 1930s, and established classics like Gustav Machatý’s avant-garde feature Ecstasy (1933), starring a young Hedy Lamarr, here in its rarely seen Czech language version. From the UCLA Film and Television Archive comes a new restoration of the two-color Technicolor Mystery of the Wax Museum (1933), paired with the Academy Film Archive’s new version of Roger Corman’s stylized The Masque of the Red Death (1964), for a study of the use of color in horror films. Works such as The Scar (1977), from the Film Archive (Public Organization), Thailand, and La femme au couteau (1969), from The Film Foundation’s African Film Heritage Project, demonstrate the depth of world cinema beyond the western canon. Narrow-gauge filmmaking is represented by a program of pioneering documentaries by Leo Hurwitz, preserved on 16mm by the George Eastman Museum, and an extensive program of home movies, curated by MoMA’s Katie Trainor and Ron Magliozzi in connection with the gallery exhibition Private Lives Public Spaces.
Organized by Dave Kehr, Curator, Department of Film. Thanks to Cindi Rowell and Marta Zeamanuel.