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About Finding Silents

 

Finding Silents is an ongoing project with the intent of recreating lost silent film elements (ie, missing reels). According to the Library of Congress, 70% of silent feature films released are lost, and many which have survived, are incomplete. Incomplete public domain silent films waiting for restoration are often done in hesitation due to missing footage pertinent to the silent film plot.

Are there film booklets - derivations of the original silent films exhibited in movie palaces - for every silent feature film ever made? The short answer is no. Are film booklets the only remaining forms of relatively accessible documentation for the silent film story itself? The answer to that one is yes, mainly due to film archives which hold physical copies of these film booklets, digitizing them in recent years and making them readily available for silent film researchers like myself.

So why silent film booklets from Spain? Biblioteca Films is probably the best-known publication title, although there are many others, including studio titles, such as MGM and Fox, which were published in Spain's publishing capital of Barcelona. However, personal experience (which began with a Spanish film booklet for a long-lost Tom Tyler silent film, "The Cherokee Kid" (1927), purchased back in 2015) has led me to discover that these booklets, printed on newspaper-quality paper, are highly valuable in appreciating what is left of lost silent films, regardless of what other surviving graphics documentation may exist, such as movie posters. Combined together, silent film stills, posters, and synopses, can be used to reconstruct missing footage in an incomplete rediscovered silent film - and give it the chance for digitization.

Many thanks to Filmoteca Catalunya for a number of the below silent film titles plus the English version. The rest have been translated and identified by me. For those who collect silent film memorabilia on their favorite star like I do - no more needs be said.

 

Finding Silents

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