Vláčil masterpiece Markéta Lazarová undergoes digital restoration work
Restoration work has begun on the late František Vláčil’s 1967 film masterpiece Markéta Lazarová, telling the story of a kidnapping and pure love in the drastic Middle Ages. The B&W epic is being completely transferred using digital technology – with damage to the original picture and sound removed. Earlier I spoke to Vít Komrzý, the head of the post-production firm overseeing the intricate work, which will cost close to one million crowns. I asked him about the importance of the film as well as the need for new audiences to see it in its earlier pristine form.
Who took the decision to see the film restored?
“The decision was taken by the National Film Archive together with the Culture Ministry and it is a project that has received strong support from the president of the Karlovy Vary International Film festival, Jiří Bartoška. I know that they want the restored film to premiere there and that’s basically planned.”
What was the original condition of the film?
“Well it’s old and it was in storage for many years and it wasn’t great. There is a lot of restoration work involved. But it’s doable and I think the result will be very good.”
“The whole process is quite complex. First, the decision was to transfer the whole film to a digital copy; we are scanning the whole thing to 4K resolution, which makes sense. After that, the next thing is to clean up all the scratches and other damage which is painstakingly detailed work. This is a very time-consuming process. Then, once that is done, we have to go back and compare the digital version to the original to make sure the ‘look’ is as close to the original as possible.”
Have you seen the improvements already? Bits and pieces where the change is apparent?
“Of course. The commission overseeing the quality meets every week at our studio and we discuss all the necessary steps and the progress made. There is a very visible difference and the picture is crisp and clean, it’s amazing. All the dirt and scratches are history.”
“Well, it’s a lot of work over a short period of time but we have a contract and a deadline so we have to get it done. I don’t see any reason, though, why it wouldn’t be ready.”