Film historian Christophe Dupin provides an account of the titanic tensions between two of the founding fathers of film archiving. Casting the piece as the British scientist up against the French romanticist, Dupin encapsulates the collisions of personality and ideology between Ernest Lindgren and Henri Langlois, the Briton who became the first curator of the BFI's National Film Library and the Frenchman who co-founded the Cinémathèque Française.
The two were instrumental in the establishment of an international network of cinephiles and archivists. Alongside the British and French institutions, New York's MOMA and Berlin's Reichsfilmarchiv looked to establish international collaboration to develop their cultural worth, resulting in the foundation of the International Federation of Film Archives. Lindgren and Langlois instigated a policy of exchange which rapidly accelerated the development of the archives. It was under these conditions that the two men began to clash. Their battle ground was the conflict between projection and preservation; to screen films, immediately breathe life into culture and risk damage, or to withhold them and safeguard as artefacts for future generations. The two observed the origins of standards and approaches in the field, and their different backgrounds and sensibilities were reflected in wildly different notions and priorities. Dupin animates a colourful history punctuated by political wranglings, legal threats and personal animosity between two players at the very heart of 20th century cinema.