Universal Aims to Restore More Classic Silent Films

Photofest
'The Man Who Laughs'

At a screening of a restoration of the 1928 silent film 'The Man Who Laughs' at the San Francisco Silent Film Festival, the studio revealed that it will be restoring 10 new titles in the next few years.

Universal Pictures' silent film initiative, first announced in 2012, has led so far to the restorations of films like All Quiet on the Western Front, The Birds and Touch of Evil. On Wednesday, at a screening of a restoration of The Man Who Laughs at the San Francisco Silent Film Festival, the studio revealed that it will be restoring 10 new titles in the next few years as part of the ongoing project.

The 10 titles will be included in an initiative first announced in 2015, which declared the restoration of 15 films such as Outside the Law, Oh, Doctor!, The Last Warning and Sensation Seekers.

"These early pioneers crafted the foundation of filmmaking and we are proud that our restoration efforts enable their work to be shared with today's audiences," said Michael Daruty, senior vice president global media operations of NBCUniversal, in a statement Wednesday. "We take the stewardship of this cultural legacy very seriously, and feel it is not only our responsibility but also our privilege to preserve these films for future generations."

The statement did not say which new films will be included in the intitiative.

Since 2012, Universal's silent film initiative has led to the restoration of 78 films, including major titles like Dracula (1931), Frankenstein, Jaws, Schindler's List, Out of Africa, The Sting, To Kill a Mockingbird, Double Indemnity, Holiday Inn, Spartacus and Cleopatra

The Man Who Laughs, at whose screening Universal announced its upcoming restoration efforts, was restored from a 35mm composite fine grain from the Universal Studios Vault, which was created from a nitrate original camera negative in 1954. The process removed scratches, dirt and warps and stabilized and de-flickered the film, while NBCUniversal Post created the 4K digital restoration.

Adapted from the novel of the same name by French author Victor Hugo, The Man Who Laughs was directed by Paul Leni (The Cat and the Canary) and stars Conrad Veidt (best known for playing Major Heinrich Strasser in Casablanca and Cesare in The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari) as Gwynplaine and Mary Philbin (Human Hearts) as Dea.