Reconstructing a lost silent film chapter

Sometimes when a lost film is rediscovered, a reel or two may be missing from the complete film. In cases where the extant reels are intended for restoration and digitization, the missing reel might be reconstructed. Many times the reconstructed footage will consist of film stills, synopsis elements and film review (which can be found through Lantern Media History) information. In rare cases, depending upon the silent film’s popularity, a film booklet may be sought after, which can be an invaluable research tool for silent film preservationists.

Regardless of what language the film booklet is in (Spanish, French, German, English), it can always be translated. Film booklets such as the Biblioteca Films which were published in Barcelona, Spain, have the film story divided by chapters, corresponding to the reels in a silent film. Say for example a silent film like “Let’s Go Gallagher” (1925) starring Tom Tyler consists of five 35mm reels. The film booklet story version will have five chapters in it, each corresponding with each 35mm reel. Suppose further this silent film has been rediscovered in a film archive, but there are only four of the five reels extant. Even with the missing reel, assuming enough historical film materials exist, that missing reel can be reconstructed and provide insight to the viewer as to what transpired in that film segment.

For an example of what a reconstructed silent film reel might look like in literary form, check out any of the following five chapters of “Red Hot Hoofs” (1926) which I translated from Biblioteca Films #233, “Por la fuerza de los puños”.