Martin Scorsese is one of the most important people in cinema. Not only is he a wonderful director, but he also has done incredible work to preserve the use of film and the historical films of our times.
The magic of movies still fascinates us today. The films of yesteryear are an important portal for us to see how the art form has changed and what life was like across decades.
In the video below, Scorsese appears as director and founder of The Film Foundation, giving insight into why film preservation is vital and how he works to keep the history of cinema alive.
We've lost a ton of old movies. Film is fragile, and there was a time when the silver nitrate used to make them was melted down to extract precious metals. For Scorsese, films are the common image and idea that define humanity.
They capture a moment in time that can echo in eternity, with the proper work and preservation.
His foundation feels the same way. By working in partnership with archives and studios, the foundation has helped to restore over 850 films, which are made accessible to the public through programming at festivals, museums, and educational institutions around the world. The Film Foundation's World Cinema Project has restored 42 films from 25 different countries representing the rich diversity of world cinema.
The foundation's free educational curriculum, The Story of Movies, teaches young people—over 10 million to date—about film language and history.
Preservation and restoration is a constant journey. We need to keep moving them from one format to another. Right now it's all digital, but we need to make sure these movies exist on whatever platform is next.
This is tough and expensive work, but it is our duty as humans to keep history alive.
We preserve because we can't know where we are going until we know where we have been.
The moment has come where we need to treat moving images with the respect we treat the oldest books. Losing them can no longer be an option.
As Scorsese says, "Our American artistic heritage has to be preserved and shared by all of us. Just as we’ve learned to take pride in our poets and writers, in jazz and the blues, we need to take pride in our cinema, our great American art form."
Have you checked out the World Cinema Project? Let us know which movies you've seen in the comments.