Restoration of old films – if they smell suspicious of vinegar (archive)

Julia Walmüller in conversation with Lianne von Bellerbeck

Vinegar syndrome is an unstoppable process of chemical decomposition that eventually renders the film copy unusable. This creates the typical vinegar smell. (Imago / Ronald Grant)

The Film’s Role as a Black Box: Was the Old Film Preserved or a Disaster? Can you still save him? The film’s restorer, Julia Walmüller, strives to do so faithfully and with her nose. The results were presented by Deutsche Kinemathek in Berlin.

Deutsche Kinemathek will present in Berlin 21 cinematic treasures from 15 European countries starting October 27 with its screening Film Festival. These include silent films that have been stored in archives for years and have been restored. This is thanks, among other things, to the work of film restorer Julia Wolmüller, who works at Kinemathek das Digitization project “Cinema Heritage Funding Program” directs.

movie like power

For its job, you need to love the material and the movie anyway, but also have a dedication to really deal with it, she says. Because the work is especially challenging when the film shows severe signs of decomposition: “You open the can and everything is a disaster.”

in silence The film “Katzensteg” by Gerhard Lambrecht will also be shown at the Heritage Film Festival. The Prussian village community takes revenge on the son of their treacherous baron. (German Kinemathek)

“Common is vinegar syndrome,” also called “vinegar syndrome” in German, Wallmüller explains. So acetate membranes release acetic acid with age: “That smells like a good salad.”

Then it’s time to take rescue action, which can be piecemeal. As with the film “Der Katzensteg” from 1927, which the “Film Festival” includes in the program: Wallmüller had to piece together many flaws and create a work of various poor copies.

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The German Kinemathek Berlin screenings from 27 October to 1 November: “Reclaiming the Film – Das Film Festival”.

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