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Library of Congress: 70 percent of silent-era films are lost

  • McClatchy Washington Bureau
  • Published Wednesday, Dec. 4, 2013, at 10:45 a.m.
  • Updated Friday, Dec. 13, 2013, at 11:15 a.m.

According to the Library of Congress, roughly 70 percent of America's silent feature films have been lost to neglect and time.

A new study, "The Survival of American Silent Films: 1912-1929", was released today.

10,919 silent feature films made in America were released in that period according to previous documentation. Only 14% remain in their original format. 11% of those are complete in foreign or lower-quality versions.

Many of these early films were made with nitrate film stock which is flammable and easily deteriorates. There have been discoveries over the years of lost films.

Film actress Mary Pickford's films were saved since she paid for preservation. Over 80 of Western cowboy icon, Tom Mix's films no longer exist, and out of the 16 films from Will Rogers, only 5 have survived.

The study can be read National Film Preservation Board website.

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