You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Kevin Brownlow brings cinema’s past to life

Filmmaker-historian given Honorary Oscar

In the boutique world of film preservation, less associated with the glamour of Hollywood than with cold vaults and tedious research, Kevin Brownlow is an immense star.

Feature filmmaker, historian and documentarian, Brownlow’s career has inspired the work of motion picture archivists around the world. Brownlow’s renowned sleuth work — Yes, bordering on the obsessive — has resulted in high-profile restorations, like “Napoleon” (1927) and some of the finest documentaries about the medium ever made, such as “Unknown Chaplin” (1983).

Brownlow’s influence has been significant “behind the scenes” as well. Due to Brownlow’s research, Warner Bros. and George Eastman House were able to collaborate on a meticulous and much heralded restoration of “The Big Parade” (1925).

Charismatic, indefatigable and dryly witty, Brownlow has become a larger-than-life character much like many of the silent film characters he has so beloved since a young age.

But perhaps Brownlow’s greatest legacy can be seen in university classrooms around the world where professors of film history attempt to engage young audiences for whom an “old movie” is something like “Raiders of the Lost Ark.” To such kids, silent films seem as remote as another planet — that is, until Brownlow’s work arrives on the screen. Whether in documentary form or restored celluloid, Brownlow’s gift makes historical cinema live again, exciting new generations of film lovers for years to come.

— Caroline Frick Page, Ph.D, curator of motion pictures, the George Eastman House.

Francis Ford Coppola | Eli Wallach | Jean-Luc Godard | Kevin Brownlow

More Scene

  • Robert De Niro

    Robert De Niro Slams Trump Administration at Tribeca Opening Night

    The 18th annual Tribeca Film Festival opened with Roger Ross Williams’ documentary “The Apollo” at the iconic uptown venue which performers and Harlem community members call “home.” “You can feel the history, the echo of the entertainers,” Tribeca Film Festival co-founder Robert De Niro said in a speech before the film. “In this administration, during [...]

  • Lilli Cooper Tootsie

    How the 'Tootsie' Musical Was Updated for the #MeToo Era

    Turning the beloved 1982 comedy “Tootsie” into a 21st century musical already seemed like a challenge when work on the adaptation began back in 2016. Then the #MeToo movement revved up — and the writers knew they couldn’t tell Dorothy’s story for a modern audience without it. “It’s different than it was when the movie [...]

  • Ralph Fiennes attends a special screening

    Ralph Fiennes on Directing Rudolf Nureyev Biopic: 'It's Been a Very, Very Long Road'

    Ralph Fiennes celebrated his latest directorial outing, “The White Crow,” on Monday night in New York City. The Sony Pictures Classics film tells the story of legendary dancer Rudolf Nureyev. “It’s been a very, very long road. We were mad. We were mad to take on this subject of Rudolf Nureyev. Mad. Completely mad,” Fiennes [...]

  • Taylor Swift Time 100 Performance

    Watch Taylor Swift's Time 100 Gala Performance and Speech

    Just two nights out from Taylor Swift D-day spring 2019 — i.e., Thursday’s release of a new single — Swift made an appearance Tuesday at the Time 100 event in New York, where she did not let loose with any spoiler performances of new music but did sing a few fan favorites, including “Style,” “Delicate,” and [...]

  • Katie HolmesAT&T Presents: Untold Stories Luncheon

    Katie Holmes, Kal Penn Help Decide Winner of $1 Million Filmmaker Grant

    Tribeca Film Festival and AT&T gave one young filmmaker a million and one reasons to rejoice at the “Untold Stories” third annual competition. After a nerve-wracking 10-minute long pitch in front of over 850,000 live stream audience members and a panel consisting of celebrities and industry leaders, filmmaker Kate Tsang was awarded $1 million Monday [...]

  • Laurie Metcalf, John Lithgow'Hillary and Clinton'

    Why John Lithgow Worried About Starring in Broadway's 'Hillary and Clinton'

    When Lucas Hnath first conceived of “Hillary and Clinton” in 2008, he was writing for and about a very different America. Now, a total reimagining of the show has made its way to Broadway with Laurie Metcalf and John Lithgow in the titular roles. At the opening on Thursday night, the cast and creatives talked [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content