Monday, April 4, 2011

Rotting Film

I watched last night's Fragments on TCM and I was utterly fascinated. One of the reasons I am so attracted to old films is that some of them are lost and shrouded in mystery. Fragments gave me my "fix" when it comes to my obsession with decomposing film. Watching what was left of several films makes them fascinatingly eerie. Although I do enjoy films in their damaged states, I also find it sad that all the hard work that went into making these movies was totally pissed all over.

A can of nitrate film totally decomposed into dust.

Maybe I am in the minority here, but I think decomposed film has created a beauty all on it's own. There is something ghostly and eerie about seeing a happy moving image from the 1920s then all of a sudden the film begins to decompose until the entire image is consumed by the gooey bubbles.

It's just so strange and creepy to think that the hard work of people I love most have been reduced to this! Namely Theda Bara and Clara Bow. But on the other hand, the random decomposition has created a brand new film. An accidental thing of wonderment and beauty! (Hehe, I'm annoying myself here with this

I recently found out about a film that was made in 2003 called Decasia and it is made up entirely of pieces of decomposing film set to some dark, creepy music. I think it's supposed to be some deep, pretentious, "art" piece, but I really just want to see it for the rotting film. Pseudo-intellectual I am NOT! Set to the creepiest music I have ever heard, it's sure to give me a good spook!

Surely, this is not what Nancy Carroll had in mind when she was working hard in the silent pictures!


  1. I watched that last night, too. Clara, with her beautiful red hair, was lovely.

  2. I know exactly what you really get a jolt when you see the film starting to buckle and bleed. You rememeber "wow, this was a really long, long time ago"...

  3. This is really interesting. I wish I caught it. Kori xoxo

  4. I didn't get to see this on TCM UK !

  5. Decasia is one of my favourite films - really hauntingly beautiful, despite it being tragic that so much film has been lost from decomposition.

    I don't know if you saw this when I posted it on my blog last year but the third clip is pretty deteriorated, and even though it's my family history, the (ok, so slightly pretentious) aesthete in me likes it:

  6. I taped Fragments last night. I am SO excited to watch it! I completely agree, there is something beautiful about decomposed film.

  7. I just rescued a box of old reels from a basement this weekend ( and after reading this, I am nervous! We were going to take them in and have them transferred to dvd, but what if i open the containers and they're dust?!

  8. I absolutely agree with you when it comes to decomposing film having it's own unique beauty, its simply too fascinating! Unfortunately, I missed that show due to my lack of jealous! :P

  9. I agree about decomposing film having its own eerie, beauty. I'd like to see that other film, too (but also for its arty side - I do love a bit of wanky art ;]) Here's another artist who has produced still images from decomposing film - Eric Rondpierre. I may also have to try to find that TCM series, somehow...
    -Andi x


Dress #8 -- Simplicity 7382 (1976)