Restoration of Hammer's Dracula - unleashed this Halloween
The BFI's restoration of the original Hammer Dracula
is unleashed on British audiences this Halloween.
Halloween Preview screenings: 31 October 2007
date: 2 November 2007
Venues: BFI Southbank, Irish Film Institute, Cineworld
venues nationwide plus other venues tbc.
have a website dedicated to the film, with details of
screenings around the UK and Ireland at
IMAX screening on 31st October will be introduced by the
film's legendary screenwriter Jimmy Sangster. For
Irish Film Institute in Dublin will be screening the
film on Sunday 28th October at 5pm, as part of the
Horrorthon festival. The film will be introduced by
unofficialhammerfilms.com editor Robert J.E. Simpson.
For booking details see:http://www.irishfilm.ie/cinema/sdispfilm_07.asp?SID=138&filmID=5700
PRESS RELEASE: October 2007
Back From The Dead: The Restoration of Dracula
the size and scope of the BFI National Archive, there are
still areas of British cinema under-represented in our
collection. The classic Gothic Hammer horror films are one
such group, so we decided that we would celebrate the
fiftieth anniversary of the rebirth of Hammer as a horror
studio with the restoration of Dracula (1958),
the second film in the cycle, but perhaps the most iconic.
fortunate to have the support of Hammer Films, Warner Bros –
who store the original negative in their vaults - and YCM
Laboratories in Los Angeles. Simon Hessel, a contributor to
earlier Archive projects, generously agreed to fund the
restoration and creation of new preservation materials to be
held by the Archive in the UK.
established that the original negative was still in good
shape, our next concern was to locate the original UK title
sequence, as all available versions retained the US release
title of The Horror of Dracula and were bland
in comparison with the original. Under the enthusiastic
direction of Andrea Kalas, our Senior Preservation Manager,
who supervised the whole project, Ben Thompson, Senior Image
Quality Specialist, took on the search for this material as
well as for other missing footage. At Ben’s urging, Warner
Bros pulled more materials from their remote vaults and
found the original elements of the UK title.
BBFC originally excised some 55 feet (36 seconds) to give
the film an ‘X’ certificate, but the US release version was
slightly longer. Also we knew of the persistent rumour that
a longer Japanese version had an extended decomposition
scene at the finale. Ben proved absolutely tireless in his
search for this footage, consulting Hammer scholars,
ex-employees, Warner Bros in the UK and USA and the National
Film Center in Japan.
seems that we can blame fire for destroying most of this
material. The UK censor cuts were most likely lost in a fire
at Hammer’s studios in Bray and the Curator of Film at the
National Film Center confirmed that a surviving Japanese
release print had suffered water damage following a fire in
1984. The evidence for a longer Japanese version remains
inconclusive, despite the appearance in a fanzine of a
gorier, disintegrating Dracula not seen in any existing film
copy. However, we were able to reinstate one of the UK
censor cuts (of around four seconds) as this had not been
cut for the US release.
Bros had made interpositives for DVD mastering with YCM
Laboratories in Los Angeles and gave the BFI permission to
use the same grading for the new preservation materials,
making a considerable cost saving on the project. Ensuring
that the final prints resembled as closely as possible the
original 1958 ‘IB Tech prints’ meant working with a
knowledge of the process and modern film stocks.
1952, Kodak introduced its first colour negatives – called
Eastmancolor – for professional motion picture production.
Technicolor adjusted its printing processes for prints from
these negatives rather than from the three-strip black and
white negatives which traditionally made up the Technicolor
process. The prints that were produced used the
dye-transfer process, known colloquially as ‘IB Tech’, with
‘IB’ standing for the imbibition process of applying dyes to
the prints. This process is no longer in use, so our task
was to capture this highly saturated look in modern stocks.
Audio restoration was carried out at our Video and Audio Lab
version had its first public screening in the Cannes
Classics section of this year’s Festival and was followed in
early July by a triumphant screening at Il Cinema Ritrovato,
an archive festival in Bologna. More than 4000 people
crammed the Piazza Maggiore for a late-night open-air
screening and watched in spellbound silence.
opens in the UK on November 2 in both 35mm and High
Definition after special Halloween previews.
Senior Curator (Fiction)
BFI National Archive
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