The popular streaming service Netflix announced they will support Cinémathèque française in their quest to preserve French film heritage. The American company will pay between 150 and 200 million euros per year to secure France’s cinematic history, starting with Abel Gance’s Napoleon.
Required by Law
Roselyne Bachelot, French minister of Culture, announced in December that large streaming services are now forced to contribute to financing French films. Due to the French law for video streaming services, also known as the SMAD decree, Netflix is obliged to invest 20 to 25% of their French revenue back into the nation’s cinematographic scene. Bachelot explained that a part of this amount would also be used to protect heritage films. The collaboration between Netflix and the French film institute Cinémathèque française seems like a step in the right direction.
The Emperor’s New Film
The first project Netflix and Cinémathèque will take on together is the restoration of Gance’s Napoleon, released in 1927 as a silent picture. In 1935 the director redesigned the film to a talking movie, adding a new narrative structure. Since then the film has undergone multiple restorations, but Netflix and Cinémathèque hope to add a new one at the end of 2021. “Just in time for the bicentenary of the death of the Emperor”, announced Frédéric Bonnaud, General Manager of Cinémathèque. Governmental organisation CNC, Fondation Napoléon and a private patron will contribute to the project as well. The aim is to reconstitute the original seven-hour picture by cleaning and restoring damaged and lost images.