Thursday, June 10, 2010

Lost and Found: Shadows (1959)

The Story
In 1957, Cassavetes shot the original version of this film, which challenges racial roles and explores friendship in a time where things were not so simple.  He showed this movie in Paris in 1958, but was unsatisfied with the audience reaction.  Much like a painter covering his original work, he simply shot another version.  This one was about ten minutes longer and featured a new soundtrack.  This one is the one everyone actually saw over here...but what happened to original one?
Was It Found?
It took a long time, but 'yes.'  In 2002, film historian Ron Carney found the film after over a decade of searching.  He found a woman whose father was a 'junk dealer' of items found near the New York Subway System.  She recalled seeing a film reel show up in a box with the movie's title, but that was years ago.  In 2004, he finally discovered the film in one of the other child's attic!
The second version of the film was a notable one in it's time, challenging conventional film-making ideals and conventions.  The racial aspect is obviously notable as well.  More notable, however, is the legendary status that the original print gained.  Was it some buried treasure or would opening the vault result in some face melting?  The result is somewhere in the middle, with the film neither redefining life itself or being utter shit.  It's a great snapshot of its time and a good discovery for Cinephiles everywhere.  Thanks for your patience, Ron.
Up next, Japan's first attempt at animation has been lost for years.  Has it been found though?  Stay tuned...

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