Organized mostly chronologically, the film presents the 40-year career of Henri Langlois (1914-1977), film's first archivist, and the creator of the Cinémathèque Française and Musée du Cinéma. Talking heads, film clips and stills, and archival interviews with Langlois trace his life from 1935, when he starts the Circle of Cinema film club. He begins to buy films, saving many from destruction. During World War II, he finds places to hide them. By mid-1944, the Cinémathèque has 50,000 films. He runs afoul of bureaucrats, but the New Wave comes to his defense. The museum opens in 1972. The film celebrates his philosophy and beliefs, personality and dedication, and his vision. Written by
[referring to his trip to receive an Oscar in 1974]
When I arrived in L.A. I thought that the Oscar was like our Legion of Honor. But it's much more important than that because everyone and his brother gets one of those eventually. An Oscar is truly a serious matter. I didn't realize how much it meant. It's comparable to being chosen as a master craftsman by one's fellows in the time of the guilds.
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Until I watched this documentary on TCM, I did not know or heard of Henri Langlois and was amazed to learn what he did for cinema. He went through great trouble and hardship to be able to collect and preserve these movies and memorabilia. Watching his interviews and footage you can appreciate his love for cinema and the best part of him was that he collected movies from all over the world unlike some others who only preserved what they liked. Great directors owe their success to this man as he made it possible for the younger generation to have a chance to watch great works of cinema in his theater. One can appreciate his efforts knowing when he started to show these movies, VHS and DVD's were not available and if you missed a movie once it was on big screen, you may never get a chance to watch it. Watching this documentary, I realize that my collection of DVD's would have not been as large if it wasn't for Mr. Langlois. Henri Langlois was a visionary and ahead of his time by decades. Too bad not too many people know about him.
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