It’s amazing to think that over the hundreds of thousands of years we have lost so much cultural history due to time, deterioration, fire, acts of God, etc. In fact it’s estimated that over 97% of the entire human history is lost, since it only became popular to record history about 6000 years ago. But what about modern history? What about the last, say, 100 years? Well, interestingly enough, the internet has an answer for us. This is where we turn our sights to the Wikipedia List of Lost Films.
This list runs from about 1890 to 1990, and although it doesn’t have every lost film ever produced, it certainly is a great way to measure how much we could have potentially lost over the years. Wikipedia also has a great list of Incomplete or Partiality Lost Films, where films have been either edited, damaged, or lost, and only a portion of them remains, which you should really check out.
Here’s a few interesting completely lost films from the list:
1930 – Song of the Flame – This film was the fist to use the widescreen format as well was an Academy Award nominee for best sound recording. The film itself is completely lost, but the sound discs for five of the nine reels are intact. What I find interesting about this entry is it was the first to use Widescreen. It isn’t credited as the first fully shot widescreen film, but it was to first to have a widescreen sequence in a color movie. Widescreen, it’s everywhere, from our TVs, our Phones, the computer you’re probably reading this with, and it all started with some random film from 1930.
1933 - Chikara to Onna no Yo no Naka – Being the first Anime with voice-overs, Chikarastarted a path that all Anime films walk today. The plot of Chikara is an odd one, in which the main protagonist cheats on his wife and only gets caught through talking in his sleep. The fact that this is the first Anime with Voice Acting is quite monumental. If this film didn’t exist we might not have the nearly-trademark Anime surprise noise (Whaa!?!) or the familiar power-scream of someone going Super Saiyan. This film’s loss is quite saddening considering all of the Anime history it founded.
1933 – Wasei Kingu Kongu - Another lost film from the land of the rising sun, Wasei Kingu Kongu (Japanese King Kong) was a short Japanese adaptation of 1933 classic King Kong. But that isn’t the reason why it it’s all that interesting. Kingu Kongu is widely regarded as the first Kaiju, or Japanese Giant Monster Movie, and it predates Godzilla by 21 years. Despite the fact that it is clearly a translation or remake of King Kong, this film is the beginning of stuff like Ultraman and Godzilla. Truly another case of cultural history lost to the sands of time.
Wayne came here to write articles and chew bubblegum, and he’s all out of ideas for articles. After years of reading books, watching television, and playing video games, he finally started talking and writing about them. With a background in blogging for many sites over the years, he now considers himself the self-proclaimed Leader of the Mole People, as well as a lover of storytelling and music. Part-time comedian, full-time awesome. Available for life/marriage/legal counseling through his Twitter feed @ThatWayneO.