Lost silent film rediscovered after 104 years

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Film is Fabulous! and De Montfort University’s Cinema and Television History Institute (CATHI) have announced the discovery of what’s turned out to be a pretty important bit of film history. 

Sealed Hearts, a 1919 Selznick Pictures film, was previously thought lost – until a private collector revealed they had four of the five 35mm nitrate reels sitting in a box somewhere.

The film was directed by Ralph Ince and starred Eugene O’Brien – one of the many silent movie stars who never made the transition to ‘talkies’ after the introduction of sound, making Sealed Hearts one of the few remaining examples of his filmography.

There’s some lovely pictures of the lost film here as well – and it looks to be in remarkably good condition! Take a look:

The tinted 35mm print might be the British version of the film, but the US Library of Congress have decided it’s important enough for them to get involved; they’ve requested it be sent over the pond for restoration.

The Washington Evening Star reviewed the film back in December 1919. They called it “A colorful [sic] drama of youthful loves, elderly prejudices and clashing natures that is rich in beauty, forceful in development and thrilling in climax.” No, we don’t really know what that means either, but it sounds positive!

De Montfort University looks after a pretty substantial archive of film material already, including the Hammer horror and Sir Norman Wisdom archives. and the Cinema Museum’s Indian Cinemas archive.

The discovery, along with other finds, will be topics of discussion at the Film is Fabulous! event, which is being held at the Phoenix Cinema and Arts Centre in Leicester on Sunday, 29th October 2023.

Read more: Celebrating the films of Clara Bow

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