Preserving cinematic heritage is the primary goal of film archives and presenting restored films to the public is always a wonderful occasion. The Hong Kong Film Archive's (HKFA) new series "Restored Treasures" will feature films from all over the world that have undergone different forms of restoration. The restored treasures are director David Lean's majestic "Lawrence of Arabia" (1962), to be shown in June, and "It was a Cold Winter Night" (1955), an emblem of Cantonese cinema's 1950s golden age, which screens in July.
Tickets for the June 6 screening of "Lawrence of Arabia" have sold out. An additional screening will be held at 7.30pm on June 18. "It was a Cold Winter Night" will be shown at 2.30pm on July 4. Both films will be screened in the Cinema of the HKFA, with Chinese and English subtitles.
The HKFA launched the "Restored Treasures" series earlier this year in collaboration with the Hong Kong International Film Festival to present the classics "Metropolis" (1927) and "Confucius" (1940). The programme will continue to screen a restored film the first Sunday of every month, featuring a mix of works from Hong Kong and abroad.
With stunning images, glorious music and magnificent performances, "Lawrence of Arabia" is an epic portrait of an extraordinary man in an extraordinary time. Starring Peter O' Toole, it is a saga of T.E. Lawrence's adventures during World War I in the Middle East, when the region was already a cauldron of political, ideological and economic conflicts.
The film is also a portrait of will and compulsion, qualities not only true of the title character but also of director David Lean, who would go to excruciating lengths to realise his vision. It also took will and compulsion to restore "Lawrence of Arabia". The film was cut shortly after its initial release and much of its original material had been damaged. Under the supervision of Lean and its original editor, a team of film professionals conducted extensive research and went over more than four tons of image and sound materials.
The restoration project cost more than US$600,000 and took over two years to complete, not only returning the film to its sight and sound glory, but also adding scenes excluded from the original, some with new dialogue recorded by the film's actors.
"It was a Cold Winter Night" was directed and written by Lee Sun-fung at the height of his creativity. Adapted from the novel "Wintry Night" by the influential writer Ba Jin, the film tells the story of a man, his wife and his mother during and after the war, the difficulties of their relationship under the weight of tradition, the devastation of war and the clash of personalities.
The film makes effective use of the family melodrama genre's conventions, harvesting heart-wrenching emotions with vivid characterisations, evocative mise-en-scene and great performances from Ng Cho-fan and Pak Yin.
The print to be screened was restored by the HKFA in 2004. It was among the earlier lots of films restored by the Archive at a time of limited resources and experience, yet it represents the first step of the Archive's continued commitment in preserving the heritage of Hong Kong cinema and sharing it with the public.
Tickets priced at $40 for the screenings are available at all URBTIX outlets. Half-price concessionary tickets are available for senior citizens aged 60 and above, people with disabilities, full-time students and Comprehensive Social Security Assistance recipients.
Detailed programme information can be obtained in the "ProFolio 52" distributed at all performing venues of the Leisure and Cultural Services Department. Reservations can be made by phone on 2734 9009, or on the Internet at www.urbtix.hk. For enquiries, please call 2739 2139/ 2734 2900 or browse the websites: www.filmarchive.gov.hk or www.lcsd.gov.hk/fp .
Ends/Monday, June 7, 2010
A film still of "Lawrence of Arabia" (1962).
A film still of "It was a Cold Winter Night" (1955).