Scorsese preserves world’s forgotten films through Criterion


Preston Barta // Features Editor

There’s a reason why Martin Scorsese is such a celebrated filmmaker. It’s not just because he has created some of the most iconic and acclaimed movies of all time like TAXI DRIVER, RAGING BULL and GOODFELLAS. It’s also because of his awareness of other filmmakers’ work and how he restores neglected films.

Not rated, about 588 minutes.
Available Tuesday on Blu-ray and DVD through the Criterion Collection.

What started in 2007 as a leg of the Film Foundation has made its way into the Criterion Collection with MARTIN SCORSESE’S WORLD CINEMA PROJECT.

On Tuesday, the second volume of the collection — containing nine discs (both Blu-ray and DVD) and six titles — will release to those who are avid film collectors and appreciate a good lesson in culture through cinema.

You may ask, “Why would I want to watch these depressing movies with subtitles akin to the kind I fell asleep during history class?” I would argue it’s a different time now. The world is changing, multiple movies are being cranked out each week and many profound works of art (like the ones in this collector’s set) are being buried. The truth is you never know what kind of impact a film could have on you. If you keep watching the safe, easygoing blockbusters of today, how else are you going to find inspiration to create unique art of your own?

Olga Breno (Woman #1) in Mário Peixoto’s ‘LIMITE.’ Courtesy The Criterion Collection.

The second volume gathers 1979’s INSIANG (a Filipino film about a daughter who is raped by her mother’s lover, but learns how to exact her revenge), 2000’s MYSTERIOUS OBJECT AT NOON (an experimental documentary that follows a film crew traveling across Thailand, asking people to contribute to a story in their own words), 1989’s REVENGE (a Russian-spoken tale about a child raised in Korea to avenge the death of his father’s first child), 1931’s LIMITE (a black-and-white silent film that focuses on three lost souls who sail aimlessly while reflecting on their past), 1966’s LAW OF THE BORDER (a black-and-white Turkish-spoken narrative that centers on an impoverished man trying to keep his ailing son alive by sneaking a herd of sheep across the border) and, finally, 1987’s TAIPEI STORY (a Taiwanese film about people being stuck in the past and struggling to find hope of a promising future).

Each of the restored films looks and sounds as good as they ever will, considering they were filmed some time ago or under a limited budget. Not every film is something you’ll find yourself revisiting; however, each title will foster a dialogue and encourage movie lovers to seek out more hidden gems such as these.

Grade: A-

Extras: The dual-format Criterion release includes introductions to the films by WORLD CINEMA PROJECT founder Scorsese, interviews with historians and filmmakers, a restored digital soundtrack of LIMITE and a booklet featuring a series of essays.

All Special Features:

  • 2K, 3K, or 4K digital restorations of all six films, presented courtesy of the World Cinema Project in collaboration with the Cineteca di Bologna, with uncompressed monaural or 5.1 surround DTS-HD Master Audio soundtracks on the Blu-rays
  • Remastered digital soundtrack for LIMITE, created from archival recordings
  • New introductions to the films by World Cinema Project founder Martin Scorsese
  • New interview programs featuring film historian Pierre Rissient (on INSIANG), director Apichatpong Weerasethakul (on MYSTERIOUS OBJECT AT NOON), director Ermek Shinarbaev
    (on REVENGE), filmmaker Walter Salles (on LIMITE), film producer Mevlüt Akkaya (on LAW OF THE BORDER), and filmmakers Hou Hsiao-hsien and Edmond Wong in conversation (on TAIPEI STORY, which Hou cowrote and acted in)
  • Updated English subtitle translations
  • Three Blu-rays and six DVDs, with all content available in both formats
  • PLUS: A booklet featuring an introduction and essays on the films by Phillip Lopate, Dennis Lim, Kent Jones, Fábio Andrade, Bilge Ebiri, and Andrew Chan

About author

Preston Barta

Hello, there! My name is Preston Barta, and I am the features editor of Fresh Fiction and senior film critic at the Denton Record-Chronicle. My cinematic love story began where I was born: off planet on the isolated desert world of the Jakku system. It's there I passed the time scavenging for loose parts with my good friend Rey. One day I found an old film projector and a dusty reel of the 1975 film JAWS. It rocked my world so much that I left my kinfolk in the rearview (I so miss their morning cups of green milk) to pursue my dreams of writing about film. It wasn't long until I met two gents who said they would give me a lift. I can't recall their names, but one was an older man who liked to point a lot and the other was a tall, hairy fella. They got me as far as one of Jupiter's moons where we crossed paths with the U.S.S. Enterprise. Some pointy-eared bastard said I was clear to come aboard. He saw that I was clutching my beloved shark movie and invited me to the "moving pictures room" where he was screening the 1993 film JURASSIC PARK to his crew. He said my life would be much more prosperous if I were familiar with more work by the god named Steven Spielberg. From there, my love for cinema blossomed. Once we reached planet Earth, everything changed. I found the small town of Denton, TX, and was welcomed into the Barta family. They showed me the writings of local film critic Boo Allen. He became my hero and caused me to chase a degree in film and journalism. After my studies at graduate of the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, I met some film critics who showed me the ropes and got me into my first press screening: 2011's THE GREEN LANTERN. Don't worry; I recovered just fine. MAD MAX: FURY ROAD was only four years away.