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Success of A tolonc / The Undesirable in Lyon

Success of A tolonc / The Undesirable in Lyon

2014.10.22

Michael Curtiz’s (born Mihály Kertész) A tolonc / The Undesirable from 1914, has been screened at the Lumiére Film Festival in Lyon, just after the premiere at the opening event of the Hungarian Film Week. The earliest feature film of the director of Casablanca has now been invited to various archive and restoration film festivals. The 100 year old silent film was digitized and restorated at the Hungarian Filmlab.

The print of A tolonc under the title The Undesirable, probably made for American cinema distribution was found in a basement in the USA, and then returned to Hungary in 2008. The digitization and restoration has been recently finished in the Hungarian Filmlab –  for the order of the Hungarian National Digital Archive and Film Institute (MaNDA) and with the support of the Hungarian National Film Fund – as a result of an 8 month working process.

The adaptation of the story of an unjustly expelled Hungarian maid, a folk play by Hungarian playwright Ede Tóth, is a true rarity in the film history, not only because of one of the most influential filmmakers in Hollywood, Michael Curtiz, but as it is the only surviving film featuring the most celebrated Hungarian actress of the era, Mari Jászai. Due to the importance in film history of The Undesirable an active international attention followed the process of the restoration.

The only remained, original nitro print was scanned with a special archive gate in 4K resolution and then restored in several phases. The specialists of the VFX studio stabilized the wobbling and flashing image frame by frame, they – mostly manually – removed dirt, scratch and other damages, repaired distorsions and image duplications due to faulty printing  – which was the biggest challenge in this project –, they „regrained” the picture to provide the original look (in stead of a clean and digital image), keeping all details of the picture. Then came the reproduction of the original colouring – varying by scenes: green, yellow, blue or red – by digital colour grading and the original screening speed.

For the already reborn silent film Attila Pacsay composed music score, that was performed by the Pannonia Symphony Orchestra the premiere in the Palace of Arts in Budapest and added to the digital copy (DCP) created for future screenings too.

For the demo about the restoration process click here:

Restoration demo: A tolonc / The Undesirable from Magyar Filmlabor on Vimeo.