It may look like a grab bag at first--50 preserved films from 18 American archives spanning the years 1893 to 1985 and encompassing everything from documentaries and home movies to experimental films and animation--but this unprecedented collection has a clear focus. It celebrates the scope and wealth of cinema history's "orphans," the films abandoned by the marketplace and left to nonprofit organizations to rescue. This is the proof of their efforts, and only a tiny, tantalizing example of what has been preserved. The "stars" of the set are the features: the startlingly savage 1916 William S. Hart Western Hell's Hinges and the luscious 1922 two-strip Technicolor feature The Toll of the Sea (the first color feature ever made) with Anna May Wong. Also included are The Chechahcos from 1924 (the first film ever shot in Alaska) and the extravagant (if stagy) original 1916 Snow White. John Huston's stunning documentary The Battle of San Pietro and Joseph Cornell's obscure but entrancing 1936 surrealist classic Rose Hobart are further highlights.
But there are wonders to be found throughout the collection, from a trip through Interior New York Subway circa 1905, to the gorgeous avant-garde 1928 The Fall of the House of Usher, to the only film of Orson Welles's legendary 1936 Haiti-set stage production of Macbeth in the 1937 documentary We Work Again. The breadth of work is astounding and all of it is fascinating, whether it's a revealing glimpse of a forgotten social landscape in a home movie; the preservation of theater, dance, and concert recitals in one-of-a-kind records; or an ancient work of pioneering cinema.
The four-disc set is handsomely designed, with easy-to-navigate menus featuring extensive notes and short documentaries about each archive (narrated by Laurence Fishburne), and a detailed, informative 150-page booklet accompanies the set. It's a one-of-a-kind project and a true film treasure. --Sean Axmaker --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
The "Nation Film Preservation" was founded back in 1997 and consists of 18 film archives from all around the US. Read morePublished on Oct. 9 2001
This is a somewhat risky set to buy. Of the twelve or so hours available, I find very little to recommend to anyone. Read morePublished on Oct. 1 2001 by gov
This collection is a little bit strange. It sounds like it should be both fascinating to watch as well as an important historical document. Read morePublished on Aug. 21 2001 by Guy
I bought this for my mother for mother's day. She loved it. My mommy wouldn't get off the couch for a several nights. Read morePublished on July 4 2001 by MegaMegaWhiteThing!
How does this set represent film history? I wasted my money. I want my money back.Published on April 16 2001
I have never added my opinion to Amazon before, but I feel moved to do so after watching this DVD set, which is worth every penny you'll pay for it (and some of which goes to... Read morePublished on April 13 2001 by Michael E. Barrett
such distractions from the multifarious stereo cacophony in my mind cannot be ingnored or ignobled. films, yes. Read morePublished on Feb. 13 2001 by adam dehavenon
The majority of this deluxe boxed set is devoted to early silent films. I do not consider myself a particular fan of silent films, and yet most of these I found to be wonderful. Read morePublished on Nov. 27 2000 by Culbert Laney
Just to correct the misimpression in Christoph Berner's review below: The "Treasures from American Film Archives" DVD set is NOT region encoded. That was just an Amazon error. Read morePublished on Oct. 17 2000 by Scott