8 years ago

“It’s very consistent with the American society. We value the least, those things which are the most meaningful to us. Or the most valuable to us, in a real sense: Teachers, Nurses, Mothers, and Films.”  

said George Lucas in the by Jim Murphy directed CBS special ‘Siskel & Ebert: The Future of the Movies’ (ORDER NOW), which aired on May 21, 1990, about the lack of care for a great American art form: ‘Cinema’. 

The special features film critics Gene Siskel and Roger Ebert reporting ‘on the future of the film industry’ with directors Martin Scorsese, Steven Spielberg and George Lucas: ‘their future in filmmaking’, ‘Hollywood’s current state’, ‘as well as moviemaking in general’. 

But one of the most notable conversations in the special is where Scorsese, Spielberg and Lucas speak about the importance of preserving original versions of American movies, and avoiding the constant attempts to update and modernize them in ways that might erase the original versions. 

Lucas also said in one of the interviews: 

  • “It’s our heritage, it’s a very valuable thing, It’s a shame to just see it drift away. Most people are shocked when they realise that most movies just disappear. That they just disappear. Somebody’s goes to look when they heard about a movie, and they discover the movie doesn’t exist anymore.” 

Back in 1988 Lucas even spoke to Congress about this important forgotten part of preservation of American culture:  

Key quotes:

  • “Today, engineers with their computers can add color to black-and-white movies, change the soundtrack, speed up the pace, and add or subtract material to the philosophical tastes of the copyright holder. Tomorrow, more advanced technology will be able to replace actors with “fresher faces,” or alter dialogue and change the movement of the actor’s lips to match. It will soon be possible to create a new “original” negative with whatever changes or alterations the copyright holder of the moment desires. The copyright holders, so far, have not been completely diligent in preserving the original negatives of films they control. In order to reconstruct old negatives, many archivists have had to go to Eastern bloc countries where American films have been better preserved.” 
  • “In the future it will become even easier for old negatives to become lost and be “replaced” by new altered negatives. This would be a great loss to our society. Our cultural history must not be allowed to be rewritten.’

“Everything we are doing right now means absolutely nothing”! Those where the words which Martin Scorsese send a letter to all his film friends on march 28th, 1980…. 

Then finally in 1990 Martin Scorsese founded The Film Foundation (TFF). 

  • Understand that one half of all films made before 1950, and over 80% made before 1929 are lost forever, but the TFF foundation saved already more then 600 films and counting…. 

The Film Foundation preserves and restores film features, documentaries, independent, avant-garde, home movies, and silent films, ensuring their survival for future generations. This along with Woody Allen, Robert Altman, Francis Ford Coppola, Clint Eastwood, Stanley Kubrick, George Lucas, Sydney Pollack, Robert Redford, and Steven Spielberg. Go here for the 2014 annual report. 

  • “Our American artistic heritage has to be preserved and shared by all of us. Just as we’ve learned to take pride in our poets and writers, in jazz and the blues, we need to take pride in our cinema, our great American art form.” Martin Scorsese, Founder and Chair. 


The Story of Movies, TFF’s innovative educational initiative, is the result of a partnership of filmmakers and educators to create a curriculum to help students better understand the language of film.

Watch The Story Of Movies The Film Foundation Introduction video here

By introducing young people to classic cinema, the program encourages an appreciation of film as an artistic, cultural and historical document, leading to an awareness of the importance of artist’s rights and the need to protect our motion picture heritage.

The program is distributed free of charge to educators across the country. Each unit includes a Teacher’s Guide; a Student Activity Booklet; a DVD of the film; and a supplemental DVD with material to illustrate concepts introduced in the lessons.

Learn more at storyofmovies.org

Maybe an idea for all the ‘Unicorns’ (“sex is more popular than Jesus on google” – AskTheRightQuestion) start making some donations to some true American heritage? 

Photo Credit: Distributors Columbia Broadcasting System (CBS) (1990) (USA) (TV) (original airing)