In 1948, an educational film entitled This Film is Dangerous by Ronald Haines warned of the danger of nitrate film, displaying the effects of a fire on a projection booth. It has been estimated that around 80% of all film produced during the silent age on highly flammable nitrate has been irretrievably lost.
This Film is Dangerous is a research project dedicated to the investigation and digital restoration of nitrate-based material. The project began with a startling discovery, when the original reels of two films dating from 1924 were found in the private archive of Navarrese director Javier Odériz: The Price of the Party (US) directed by Charles Giblyn—which the US Library of Congress had listed as having no extant copies—and The Last Four Seconds of Quidam Uhl (Die Vier letzten Sekunden des Quidam Uhl) (Germany) by Robert Reinert, one of the pioneers of German expressionism, the first, fourth and fifth parts of which are held in the Filmmuseum in Munich.
This project has two aims: firstly, to research the historical, social and aesthetic context in which these movies were made; and secondly, from a technical point of view, to analyse the current state of conservation of the material and to digitise and screen the works in collaboration with international film archives and institutions.
Paralleling the work on the base materials, ‘This Film is Dangerous’ also seeks to act as a space for deliberation and research on other materials on nitrate, with the aim of contributing to current debates on the digital conservation and restoration of photochemical material.