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  • Carrie Specht

West Coast Premiere of a New 4K Restoration of The Broken Butterfly


The American Cinematheque, The Film Foundation and Louis XIII Cognac (that's right, a cognac distillery) present the West Coast premiere of a new 4K restoration of the 1919 Silent Film, The Broken Butterfly at the Egyptian Theater in Hollywood. This special presentation coincides with the occasion of its 100th anniversary. The screening of the silent film with live music will be held Friday, December 13 at 7:30 PM at the historic Egyptian Theatre in Hollywood. The film will be accompanied by a trio from the musical group, Young Musicians Foundation.


The Broken Butterfly is a poignant silent drama from pioneering French-born filmmaker Maurice Tourneur (Mary Pickford's The Poor Little Rich Girl), which was unseen for nearly a century until its recent restoration. It was restored in 2019 by The Film Foundation at the L'Immagine Ritrovata laboratory in association with La Fondation Jérôme Seydoux-Pathé.


The film is the story of a composer Darrell Thorne (Lew Cody), who meets Marcene Elliot (Pauline Starke) in a Canadian forest. He is so lovestruck that he titles his next symphony after her. He hopes that she will accompany him to New York, but the young woman's aunt (Mary Alden) sends them on diverging paths. A classic tale of star crossed lovers, The Broken Butterfly stands as the inspiration of many a similar plot used over the years since, much like Romeo and Juliet and Westside Story.


Interestingly enough, the restoration funding was also due in part by the financing by Louis XIII Cognac, the self proclaimed world's most precious cognac. This is a most interesting source of funding, which leads to the clever idea of involving other diverse sources of monetary support for future restorations. For example, a Tulip farmer supporting the restoration of a Dutch film, or a saké manufacturer supporting the cause of restoring the films of Yasujirô Ozu. The pride of nationalism would go along way for advertising in the funders home country.


There's nothing like watching a Silent Film on the big screen with a live musical accompaniment. It's like stepping back in time. And most importantly you'll be seeing the movie as the filmmakers intended it to be seen - on the big screen. Remember, the early director had no idea there would ever be alternative platforms available for viewing. Because of this fact it is essential that the film be seen under the best situation as possible. And in this case it means a darkened theater with a bunch a strangers. These so called strangers will have the same intent as eager classic film fans who desire the presentation of a vintage film in its native environment - a movie theater. Please honor the efforts of all those involved and celebrate this restoration at the Egyptian Theatre on December 13. You'll never forget it.


As a tribute to its longstanding relationship with time and dedication to preserving craftsmanship, Louis XIII Cognac has partnered with The Film Foundation for the restoration. With French inter-titles and English subtitles. Special Ticket Price is $15. Free to Cinematheque Members.