The other day I was at work and making up a print. It was the movie “The Third Man” now having never heard of it, I gave it a quick google and it turns out that it is from 1949, which would explain the print being in black and white. While i was making it up, I was being very careful, trying to preserve frames where I could when needing to join spools together, just as a matter of course, as it looked old. After all, if every time it is made up and taken apart, it loses frames from the head and tail of each spool, eventually scenes are going to disappear.
It got me thinking, what if this is the last print left in the world? Unlikely I know, but you can’t really be sure. Perhaps not with this movie. Or perhaps it is, what if one day I am working on some obscure movie, that hasn’t had a dvd/blu ray conversion done to it and the print I have is the last one. It’s entirely possible that this may be the case eventually. It did make me extra careful to keep frames when possible and even clean up a few dodgy looking joins that were already in it as well as reinforcing a couple of damaged sprocket holes.
With the shift to digital cinema and the conversion from 35mm film prints to hard drives it wouldn’t surprise me if one day, I do end up working on the last copy of a movie. I find that a humbling, special and fairly sad prospect all at the same time.