Accessibility, Authenticity, and Anxiety

Janna Jones

in The Past Is a Moving Picture

Published by University Press of Florida

Published in print July 2012 | ISBN: 9780813041926
Published online January 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780813043906 | DOI:
Accessibility, Authenticity, and Anxiety

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This chapter focuses on the creation of the American Film Institute (AFI) in the 1960s and the colorization controversy of the 1980s and how these events opened the door to both the potential and the problems of archival accessibility. Guided by the New Frontier philosophy and the film industry's capital, the AFI sought inexpensive film viewing technologies so that students and filmmakers would have easy access to films. The AFI cracked open the ideological gates for archival accessibility; however, as the colorization controversy revealed, the innovative technologies that brought about the ability to replicate and exhibit films inexpensively also created the capacity for people outside of the archival setting to alter the content and meanings of the film canon. This archival threat revealed the ways that classic Hollywood films had become a part of the nation's cultural memory and also had the potential to generate profit for those who owned the rights to them. Colorization technology also revealed a significant and troubling fact about the cinematic artifact: powerful people and new technologies could dramatically alter films sitting safely in the archive.

Keywords: American Film Institute; Film preservation; Archival accessibility; Library of Congress; Colorization; Film Canon; Cultural Memory

Chapter.  12083 words. 

Subjects: History of the Americas

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