Film restoration & the joy of bringing cinema classics back to the big screen

Film restoration and the joy of bringing cinema classics back to the big screen

By Ryan Finnigan, Programme Manager

At Showroom Cinema, we love the newest releases and independent titles, but it’s essential to play a breadth of films from the past, right from the very beginnings of cinema. Not only is it crucial to provide opportunities and access to the great films as they were intended to be seen – on the big screen – but it is also vital to uncover, rediscover and share overlooked areas of film history to learn about our cultural heritage.

Fortunately, since the 1990s, film preservation and restoration efforts have increased worldwide. Awareness around protecting film history and making the best efforts to ensure that film no longer becomes lost is a global priority. Archivists, filmmakers, technicians, film studios and academics worldwide are among those working together to return films to the way they once were.

Alongside this, the rise of digital technology has seen an exponential rise in the number of film reels scanned and digitised, leading to an increase in remastered and restored films being rereleased. It is now commonplace to see ‘restored in 2K’ or ‘…in 4K’ as a selling point for cinema rereleases relating to the resolution in which the original film was scanned and digitised. Put simply, the more pixels, the more detail.

After being scanned, a film will be painstakingly worked upon in different ways. A film might need to be reconstructed from different elements or aesthetic alterations may be made to return the film to how it looked on release, for example, if it has faded or discoloured. These efforts return films to audiences and can feel like seeing them for the first time.

Throughout March and April, Showroom Cinema will be screening beautiful new restorations, including Krzysztof Kieślowski’s Three Colours trilogy, restored in 4K and described by The Guardian’s Guy Lodge as “pristine restorations” that “continue to dazzle”. Other titles like the BFI restoration of Dance Craze and reissues of Raging Bull and The Big Lebowski are similarly stunning.

Such reissues give younger generations the chance to see classics for the first time and allow more seasoned audiences to revisit favourites. Restoration is not without issues – the subject of my own PhD and too lengthy to get into here – but at its best, it can be simply breath-taking and offer us newly cleaned windows through which to peer into the past.

Tickets for Dance Craze, The Big Lebowski, The Three Colours Trilogy, Raging Bull and further restored films are now on sale and can be found here:


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