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Scorsese NEH Lecture on Film Preservation


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This past Monday night. director Martin Scorsese delivered the annual Jefferson Lecture to the National Endowment of the Humanities in Washington D.C.


Titled "Persistence of Vision: Reading the Language of Cinema", Mr. Scorsese laid out the case for preserving _everything_ when it comes to film.


Beginning with a portion of the "The Magic Box," a 1951 motion picture about the invention of motion pictures, and drawing from works by Georges M?li?s, Auguste and Louis Lumi?re, D. W. Griffith, Stanley Kubrick and other directors, Mr. Scorsese said that an era of "classical cinema" was "really almost gone."


"It?s been overwhelmed by moving images coming at us all the time and absolutely everywhere," Mr. Scorsese said, after showing a portion of the star-gate sequence from "2001: A Space Odyssey," "even faster than the visions coming at the astronaut in the Kubrick picture."


Lamenting the end of the celluloid era of movie-making Mr. Scorsese said: "I grew up with celluloid, with its particular beauty and its idiosyncrasies. But cinema has always been tied to technological development, and if we spend too much time lamenting what?s gone, then we?re going to miss the excitement of what?s happening now."


"But in order to experience something," he added, "and find new values in it, it?s got to be there in the first place. You have to preserve ? you have to preserve it. All of it."



The speech has been archived at the NEH website. It can be viewed in its entirety here -


(There is a 12 minute, narration-free slideshow at the very beginning.)

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