Yesterday I posted a piece about (a) the photo-chemical elements of the 202-minute, 70mm roadshow version of John Wayne‘s The Alamo being all but half-ruined, and (b) rights-holder MGM refusing to allow a crowd-funding effort to pay for a 70mm-quality restoration because it’ll make them look like pikers. The piece was called “Alamo‘s Loss Is MGM’s Shame.”
In response to an email about this issue, MGM Senior VP for Library Rights Management Trish Francis issued this statement: “I have spoken with our Technical Services staff who assured me that the film is not in danger of being lost. They proactively and routinely monitor and assess the condition of the various elements of all of MGM’s films and take steps as needed to protect and preserve them. The film is a valuable part of film history and naturally want to protect it. I will mention [the] concerns to the appropriate people.”
Restoration guru Robert Harris is the most knowledgable person on the planet regarding the state of the 70mm Alamo elements. This morning I asked him about Francis’s statement, and he basically said that The Alamo was shot in 70mm and was meant to be seen in 70mm, and that a 35mm dupe is not good enough to make a high-def Bluray from.
“All that MGM has are 35mm dupes,” Harris said. “35mm does not represent the film as it was produced. The same situation prevailed in creating 35mm preservation elements for Ben-Hur, Patton and Lawrence of Arabia. MGM does not possess a single large-format element printable from which a full-quality print or data can be created. The 167-minute 35mm version does not exist in large format. An HD could be produced from a 35 dupe element, but that does nothing to either restore or preserve the film, which is meant to be seen on huge screens. Period.”