Population Statistic: Read. React. Repeat.
Sunday, June 06, 2021

The discovery in New Zealand of several long-lost American movies from the silent-film era is interesting because of the dumb-luck logistical reason for these surviving prints’ existence:

Many foreign films remained in New Zealand after their commercial lives were over because the studios didn’t think the return shipping was worth the expense. “It’s one of the rare cases where the tyranny of distance has worked in our and the films’ favor,” [New Zealand Film Archive manager of corporate services Steve] Russell said.

By virtue of global location, New Zealand was the final destination for the distribution of physical media, like film reels, from America and Europe. So the end of the developed-world market ended up becoming the de facto storage archive for now-historic celluloid copies. Geography meets posterity.

That “tyranny of distance” seems to be a crucial factor in tracking down old films, and probably other mass-media artifacts from the early 20th Century. The recent restoration of Metropolis from a recovered copy in Argentina is further evidence. Archivists better book their tickets for the Southern Hemisphere and other remote locales…

by Costa Tsiokos, Sun 06/06/2021 09:45pm
Category: History, Movies
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