Skip to main content

Image Systems restores old footage

Image Systems, formerly Digital Vision, has helped Éclair, one of the world's leading film and digital laboratories, to restore 1940s French classic "Les Enfants du Paradis." Directed by Marcel Carné, the film was shot in Paris and Nice during German occupation of France in World War II. In 1995, it was voted "Best French Film Ever" in a poll of 600 French critics and professionals.

Screened at this year's Cannes and Bologna Film Festivals (Il Cinema Ritrovato) the film is more than three hours long, divided into two epochs: Boulevard du Crime, set in the mid-1820s, and L'Homme Blanc, seven years later. The restoration project was vital as the physical condition of the original negative, owned by film giant Pathé, was badly damaged and in danger of falling apart. When it arrived at Éclair, the original negative was held in 11 film cans housing approximately 2000ft of material. The team at Éclair faced a number of challenges as they had to contend with a lot of moisture and mould as well as missing frames and huge wear and tear.

Éclair used the Image Systems Phoenix Refine restoration system firstly to fix some of the easier problems such as dust and dirt on the frame. It then applied a second pass to remove scratches, and following that used the system's auto fix and paint tools for repair and touch up, removing further imperfections.