The National Film Archive began with restorations like all advanced archives in the 1960s. The reasons for this activity were connected to the way in which archives came into existence and how they created and gradually made additions to their collections. The first archives date these activities of theirs back to the second half of the 1930s, at a time when much of the world’s film production had already disappeared and private collectors, as well as state archives, didn’t miss out on taking advantage of whichever kind of opportunity to get any older film (feature, documentary, animation, news, etc.). Prints and negatives were mostly damaged and incomplete, and thus archives collected a range of film materials for one title. This created the conditions for successful restoration work, which is however time consuming, as well as financially and spatially demanding.
Besides films, the NFA also restores film posters. Overall, it is a time consuming and expensive process. Posters are restored on an individual basis according to the manner and extent of the damage (restoring the richness of the colors, retouching, filling in missing pieces, etc.) including preparation of a detailed restoration report and photographs of individual steps “before and after”. All the restoration work must be reversible.
The NFA’s academic curator carries out the restoration of film posters and single sheets up to size A1 (though currently, the activity is suspended until the construction of the workshop in the new vaults is completed) posters in formats larger than A1 are restored by external academic restorers.
The historical drama Saint Wenceslas from 1929 directed by Jan S. Kolar was the first major restoration project of the NFA. The restoration of the film was extremely difficult due to the large number of film materials, none of which were complete. All of them had to be compared in order to prepare the original story line and composition. Also, the best sequences of these materials were chosen from a technical point of view (picture quality). The restoration work took place at the turn of 1969 – 1970 with the participation of the director Jan S. Kolár and set designer Ludvík Hradský.
The first international title, which was restored through the efforts of the NFA staff, was The Three Musketeers (Les Trois Mousquetaires, France 1921 dir. Henri Diamant-Berger). The restoration of the film took place in the second half of the seventies and was completed in 1980.
Currently, the restoration of films at the NFA is done devotedly by Jeanne Pommeau, Tereza Frodlová and Petra Korábová.
Selected list of other works of restored film
(After the name of the director, the year of the completed restoration of the film print is stated):
Erotikon (Seduction) 1929, dir. Gustav Machatý 1993
Učitel orientálních jazyků (Teacher of Oriental Languages), 1928, dir. Jan S. Kolár 2002
Cikáni (Gypsies), 1922, dir. Charles Anton, 2000
Příchozí z temnot (The Arrival from the Darkness), 1921, dir. Jan S. Kolár 2009
Milenky starého kriminálníka (Old Gangster’s Molls), 1927, dir. Svatopluk Innemann, 2009-2014
The Count of Monte Cristo (Monte Cristo), France, 1928, dir. Henri Fescourt 1992
The Treasure (Der Schatz), Germany 1923, dir. GW Pabst, 1999
Spiders (Die Spinnen), Germany 1919 dir. Fritz Lang, 2001 to 2007
Blood and Sand (Sangre y arena), Spain, 1916, dir. Vicente Blasco Ibáñez, Max André 1992
Wind from the Sea (Wiatr from morza) Poland 1930 r. Kazimierz Czyński 2001
Feďův Dog (Kaštanka), Soviet Union, 1926, dir. Olga Preobrežanskaja 1995
The National Film Archive has also collaborated and collaborates on many projects with other archives, especially with members of the archival organization FIAF (the International Federation of Film Archives).