×
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.

Popular on Variety

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.

GOVERNORS AWARDS HONOREES:
Francis Ford Coppola | Eli Wallach | Jean-Luc Godard | Kevin Brownlow

More Scene

  • NEW YORK, NEW YORK - DECEMBER

    Donna Karan, Mary-Louise Parker Honored at David Lynch Foundation's Women of Vision Awards

    Donna Karan, Mary-Louise Parker and Deborra-Lee Furness were celebrated for their charitable work at the David Lynch Foundation’s 2019 Women of Vision Awards. “We are all being guided to come together as one. There is so much chaos in the world right now,” Karan said, while accepting her Lifetime Achievement Award at the annual luncheon on [...]

  • Bill Hader

    Bill Hader, Greg Berlanti, Margie Cohn and Cindy Holland Inducted Into Variety Hall of Fame

    Variety’s annual Hall of Fame ceremony mixed comedy, gratitude and warmth at the annual awards ceremony Tuesday night at the Four Seasons Hotel in Beverly Hills. Because the class of 2019 celebrates technical innovation and achievement across film, TV, digital, video games and music. The honorees — Greg Berlanti, Bill Hader, Cindy Holland, Dametra Johnson-Marletti, [...]

  • Billy Porter FNAA

    Billy Porter Explains Why Fashion 'Can and Should' Be Activism

    On Tuesday in New York City, a handful of fashion’s marquee names, including Kenneth Cole, Tommy Hilfiger, Steve Madden and Pete Nordstrom, and many of its muses, including Billy Porter, Lena Waithe, Adriana Lima and Paris Hilton, gathered to celebrate the annual Footwear News Achievement Awards — or, as it’s more colloquially dubbed, the “Shoe Oscars.” Activism and the potential for designers to spur [...]

  • Tiffany Haddish Black Mitzvah

    Barbra Streisand Gives Tiffany Haddish Star of David Necklace for Her 'Black Mitzvah'

    Tiffany Haddish rang in her 40th birthday Tuesday night by celebrating her black and Jewish heritage with a star-studded “Black Mitzvah” party. One of Haddish’s famous friends, Barbra Streisand, was noticeably absent from the festivities, but sent the comedian a special memento for the occasion. “She got me this beautiful Star of David,” Haddish told [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content