Top 3 Reasons to Support Film Preservation

Some days, it feels like supporting film preservation is an uphill battle.

There are always more pressing humanitarian concerns that justifiably take the spotlight.

There are always, and have always been, people who question the validity of film as art.

There are others who cannot stand old movies, black and white movies, silent films, or anything beyond what’s being shown in the cineplex down the street.

So you can always find a reason not to support film preservation.

Here are 3 reasons why film preservation matters:

1. It’s not just preserving film, it’s people preservation too.

Someone wrote that comment on my blog about Olive Thomas, and it’s true. Often film preservation is less about the films themselves, and more about the people behind those films. It’s about saving an actor’s work for an entirely new generation of fans. It’s about showing someone what made a director like Murnau or Borzage great. Film is artistic expression made (semi)permanent, and unlike other forms of artistic media, it’s a collaborative effort. That means by preserving one film, we are preserving the work of actors, directors, writers, cinematographers, costume designers, and hundreds of other people who toiled under the same common cause–making that one film.

2. Film is artistic expression and should be treated with respect

As anyone who has read Anita Loos’ books knows, in the early days of film nobody thought they were making Art. Films were disposable products made for mass consumption. You can almost trace the emergence of Film as Art by reading her books–she credits DW Griffith with creating art, and I would add that many of his peers took this notion and ran with it. Nowadays it seems that we all agree, a great film can be Art, but yet there is still a hesitation on the part of the public to really back this claim up with cold hard cash. Let’s all agree that some films are as sacred to our history as paintings and sculptures. Now let’s supplement that statement by donating the money to preserve these films just as we preserve other works of art for future generations to enjoy.

3. Films are a window into history

Finally, films are a window into history. Thanks to the work of Matthew Brady, we are able to have some contemporary, unromanticized account of what the Civil War was like for those who fought. Films give us that same immediate, contemporary view into the past. This goes not just for documentaries, but even the funniest, or darkest films ever made. You know how in Cops (1921), Buster Keaton originally starts a panic unknowingly using an anarchist’s bomb? Keaton mined current events, such as the Sacco and Vanzetti trial and civilian bombings that followed in its wake, for that 2-reeler. Cops made 1920s audiences chuckle in a rueful way, perhaps, but for us it provides a fascinating window into the 1920s political climate and even pop culture.

My personal reason for supporting film preservation is simple: I like old movies. I know other bloggers and film fanatics out there have their own deeply personal reasons why they support film research. No matter why you choose to support the cause, whether for the 3 reasons I listed or for completely different ones, please consider making a donation to the Film Preservation Foundation today.

The National Film Preservation Foundation is the independent, nonprofit organization created by the U.S. Congress to help save America’s film heritage. They work directly with archives to rescue endangered films that will not survive without public support.

The NFPF will give away 4 DVD sets as thank-you gifts to blogathon donors chosen in a random drawing: Treasures III: Social Issues in American Film, 1900-1934 and Treasures IV: American Avant Garde Film, 1947-1986.

Please also visit the blogs of our generous hosts, who made this possible:

Thanks for reading.


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