The Un-Lost World: A Conversation with Serge Bromberg of Lobster Films

By Kyle Westphal

The French film collector and preservationist Serge Bromberg is a long-time friend of the San Francisco Silent Film Festival, which has screened many restorations from his company Lobster Films over the years. For this year’s Festival, Bromberg will be presenting two programs: a new spectacular restoration of The Lost World (1925) and a tribute to his late partner David Shepard, “Magic and Mirth: A Collection of Enchanting Short Films: 1906 - 1924.” 

The new version of The Lost World is actually Bromberg’s second attempt at restoring this beloved dinosaur epic. An earlier version, produced in standard definition video, was drawn largely from a 35mm black-and-white Czech print and a 16mm amber-tinted Kodascope print, as well as a few other sources. With many of the intertitles surviving only in Czech, Bromberg and Shepard consulted the original script to painstakingly recreate the English titles.

Shortly after that restoration was completed and released on DVD through Image Entertainment, Lobster Films acquired an incomplete 35mm nitrate copy from the original release—four reels of the original nine. Using this element as a guide, Bromberg and Shepard set out to reconstruct and restore the film again, drawing upon a number of other newly discovered elements. The Festival’s screening on June 4 will be the U.S. premiere of the new restoration, which Flicker Alley will release on Blu-ray later this year.

I spoke last week with Bromberg over Skype. We discussed his efforts to restore The Lost World, his memories of David Shepard, and his general thoughts on the archival landscape.

Read the interview here