How Warner Bros, GUCCI and The Film Foundation Restored James Dean in Rebel Without A Cause

Nicholas Ray’s iconic film, Rebel Without A Cause immortalised James Dean and captured the zeitgeist of America in the 1950s. Nearly 60 years after the actor’s tragic death, his explosive performances remain as powerful today as when they first appeared in cinemas. A spectacular restoration of Rebel Without A Cause from Warner Bros., GUCCI and The Film Foundation will receive its international premiere at the Berlin Film Festival.  In addition to the restoration of Rebel Without A Cause Warner Bros. has also restored, in 4K resolution, two other James Dean classics, Giant and East of Eden.

James Dean Rebel Without a Cause

James Dean Rebel Without a Cause

James Dean’s roles in East of Eden and Giant brought him two Oscar  nominations. His posthumous nomination for the former was the first of its kind for the awards ceremony and was the only film in which he starred to be released before his death.

Rebel Without A Cause, Giant and East of Eden will be released in international territories throughout 2014.

Notes on the Restoration of Rebel Without A Cause 

Restored by Warner Bros. in collaboration with The Film Foundation. Restoration funding provided by Warner Bros., GUCCI, and The Film Foundation.

The restoration of Rebel Without A Cause was completed from an 8K scan of the original CinemaScope (widescreen 2.55:1) camera negative at Warner Bros. Motion Picture Imaging. Due to color fading, the original camera negative could no longer yield an acceptable photochemical print.

The stereo soundtrack was reconstructed by Chace Audio at Deluxe from the magnetic soundtrack stripes of release prints, commonly referred to as “Fox hole” prints due to the smaller perforations found on Cinemascope prints that were a product of Twentieth Century Fox. The original stereo soundtrack master was erased by the studio so that the magnetic stock could be re-used for another film. (This was a common practice for most studios at the time, as it was difficult to obtain good quality magnetic stock.)

The original camera negative of Rebel Without a Cause sustained heavy physical damage due to the popularity of the feature and the large number of theatrical re-releases. The camera negatives for reels 3 and 4 were discarded by the studio many years ago as they had been entirely damaged in printing. Reels 7 and 8 were extremely fragile and had sustained heavy damage in the perforations throughout the reels. For the restoration, Warner Bros. scanned and recombined YCM separation master positives for the missing camera negative sections. They also used the YCMs to replace sections of damaged picture negative in reels 1, 2, 6 and 7. The 1954 original Technicolor dye-transfer answer print was used for color reference.

The final elements created from this preservation project will include a 35mm YCM separation master from the raw 8K scan of the OCN, a 35mm intermediate negative from the final 4K color corrected restoration, a 4K Digital Cinema Master from the final restoration, a 35mm soundtrack negative 5.1, and a 35mm release print.

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