Sunday, June 2, 2013

Review: Ben Model's "Accidentally Preserved"

Accidentally Preserved

There's been a lot of discussion lately about the guarantees that come with pledging a Kickstarter campaign. While some campaigns have failed to live up to their intended end products, Ben Model's "Accidentally Preserved" more than lives up to the promise it made pledgers.

The DVD consists of nine rare and previously thought lost silent films, three of which were transferred from their only known prints. The films range in subject matter from light comedy, to animation, to industrial, and offer glances at lesser known and forgotten stars like Billy Franey, James Parrott and Cliff Bowes. In addition to comedies like "The Misfit" and "The Lost Laugh," there is a particularly beautifully preserved Max and Dave Fleischer Out of the Inkwell cartoon "The Mechanical Doll," and a 20+ minute industrial film entitled "The House of Wonders" that offers a behind-the-scenes look at the Elgin National Watch Company  circa 1931.

Clyde Cook in "The Misfit"
Clyde Cook in "The Misfit"

The films are interesting and entertaining in their own right, but the experience is made even more enjoyable by Model's newly composed musical accompaniment for each film, and the sharp, clear and stunning transfers of the films themselves. This is how silent film was meant to be seen -- crisp and clear as the day it was filmed. In the case of at least one of the films featured, this restoration and transfer came just in time. The one-reeler "Wedding Slips" featuring Monte Collins was already facing decomposition. Before the DVD went into production, the film's emulsion began to buckle and a transfer was made immediately before it could decompose any further. The transfer came from the only known print of "Wedding Slips" in existence, thus preserving the film (and the other eight shorts accompanying it) for generations of film fans to come. 

"Accidentally Preserved" will be officially released to non-Kickstarters on June 11 on Amazon. You can learn more about the DVD itself here, and more about the man behind it all, Ben Model, here.

The Mechanical Doll from "Accidentally Preserved"
The Mechanical Doll from "Accidentally Preserved"