Recently I had a debate with a friend about the De Palma film “Home Movies”. I own it on Laserdisc which seems to be the only way to watch it. I classified it as being a lost film because most people don’t own laserdisc players and the format is dead. He disagreed and said it only applies to films that haven’t been shown on tv or available on any format wether it be vhs or dvd.
If it’s on laserdisc, that’s not lost. Those films are still archived somewhere and could be released on DVD if the demand was there.
A lost film is one that’s really unavailable—like most of Ozu’s filmography—destroyed and literally lost to posterity.
The way it is usually used is actually to refer to a film of which there is no longer a known existing print or negative (and, therefore, no home video either).
When the film is in my couch. It’s just lost forever.
“Recently I had a debate with a friend about the De Palma film “Home Movies”. I own it on Laserdisc which seems to be the only way to watch it.”
Home Movies is certainly not lost. I own a VHS copy of it. It might be hard to find but it’s certainly not lost. And I’d be surprised if someone didn’t make a torrent of it that makes it pretty easy to find online if one is so inclined to look for it.
I think technically for a film to be lost means that no print exists in any archives.
House of Leaves is right.
It has to physically not exist in any format. Although some films where small parts remain (i.e. 1 reel or something) are still considered lost.
Sure, but lost films can also potentially be “found.” It doesn’t mean that they don’t exist.
I’m waiting for the full Ambersons to be found. Probably be waiting a long time though.
Where on earth is Claire Denis’ acclaimed tv film US Go Home.
I’ve looked for it everywhere. NOBODY seems to know.
I guess i’ll have to start contacting museums etc …
Right, there are “lost” films found all the time. John Ford’s silent Upstream, for example, was recently found in New Zealand.
Y’know just last month, I saw [fill in title] on my shelf and now I can’t find hide nor hare of it. Where is it? It’s LOST!!!
^^ Yes, but that’s why it was “lost” and not lost. ;)
Right. London after Midnight is lost and in hopes of being found.
And can a film be classified as lost while the director is still alive and in likely possession of reels? John Waters’s “Roman Candle” and “Eat Your Makeup” have not been shown or released. So they have been lost as far as the public is concerned. But, if we take “lost” to mean “obliterated,” they’re probably not.
“lost to the public” is just a roundabout way of saying unavailable.
Louis Malle’s short Close Up is known to exist (owned by a private individual) but will probably never be seen by anyone other than that person. It is not lost, just very unavailable.
as for the nit-picking on my original comment, my definition was never meant to imply that a film couldn’t be found, just that a film is lost if it is physically lost (99.9% of the time this means destroyed/rotted etc.)
Dreyer’s ‘Two People’ isn’t available on any format to my knowledge, but you can get hold of it on the internet. If you get the chance, watch it.
“Louis Malle’s short Close Up is known to exist (owned by a private individual) but will probably never be seen by anyone other than that person. It is not lost, just very unavailable.”
Huh, I’ve never heard of this film. Why would the person who owns it not allow it to be screened?
“London after Midnight is lost and in hopes of being found”
I was completely shattered to discover this movie was lost after watching an informative documentary about Todd Browning on the dvd of Dracula. it looks great!!
a quick answer to your question about Malle’s Close Up (1976), courtesy of IMDB:
Plot Summary: “A documentary portrait of Dominique Sanda, the fashion model-cum-actress who became an international star and sex symbol with the release of Robert Bresson’s “Une Femme Douce” (1969)."
“No copies exist anywhere, in film/video stores, archives, libraries, or collections. Malle made the film as a personal favor for a close friend, and thereafter, this person decided not to let anyone other than Malle and Sanda see it. As such, one and only one (anonymous) individual on the planet holds a copy, and “Close-up” is, for almost everyone, impossible to see."
I own the stills-based recreation of it on the TCM Lon Chaney Collection (I guess at this point volume one, since I heard a volume two came out), and what has been saved looks magnificent. It is like one of those situations where you almost wish nobody told you about it, because you’d be happier not wondering what the rest of the movie was like……
I would kill for a print of London After Midnight
Well Micky, if anybody ever announces that they had a print this whole time and did not want to release it, you and I can be co-arsonists to their estate! (After the print is moved via awesome ninja cat burgler skillz).
thanks for the info guys. I guys the meaning is different to some people. While I was watching an interview that John Carpenter did for “Someone’s Watching Me!” dvd he called this one of his lost films since it only aired on television in the 70s. It seems that some directors just like using that term for any of their work that is now available to the public.
Does a film that has only a handful of copies in existence under the possession of film archives count as a “lost film”?
POLARIS: I agree, i wish i never saw any stills whatsoever. all it took was a pic of chaney in a top hat with huge teeth to get me excited ;-)
when i hear or read that a film is lost (not as in can’t find), i assume the only known remaining copy has deteriorated to such an extent, it can’t even be preserved and it’s lost to the viewing public… thanks to the Paper Print Collection in the Library of Congress, in the earliest years of motion pictures, some companies copyrighted their commercial films as a series of still photographs, and some of these have been reconstructed into 16mm viewable form; not what i’d consider ‘lost’… there’s also the problematic access to certain films due to movie moguls and actors / actresses that have passed on and the courts and their estates prevent the release of known material… i wouldn’t call these ‘lost’, just in ‘limbo’ until the logistics have been worked out.
I think most of these can easily be distinguished as “lost films” (films that no longer exist or are not known to exist) and unavailable films (where copies are known to exist but, follow along, aren’t being made available to the viewing public).
When you see “Twilight” sitting in the “Classics” section at your local video store, that’s a lost film. It needs to be picked off the shelf and put back in its rightful place: as a coaster for your cool refreshing beverage when you watch a real vampire movie late in the evening at your place.
when i hear or read that a film is lost (not as in can’t find), i assume the only known remaining copy has deteriorated to such an extent, it can’t even be preserved and it’s lost to the viewing public
Why would you assume there is a known remaining copy to begin with? That is what it means – not able to be found by any means.
true Leaves… there doesn’t have to be a remaining copy in order to be ‘lost’… there’s plenty gone that we don’t even know existed to begin with… ‘lost’ can mean: can’t find; been destroyed, therefore gone forever; available, but as in my explaination, the bleak reality of being aware that something does still exist, but cannot be utilized for its intended purpose; storytelling, documentation, etc. – that’s as good as ‘lost’… interpretation – isn’t the forum topic ‘what classifies a film as being lost?’
This thread has me at a loss.