A recent report by the Library of Congress has showed that an enormous quantity of American silent films has been lost forever, mainly due to fire and deterioration. The findings of the research reveal that a mere 14% of 10,019 silent films made between 1912 and 1929 still exist in their original format. This period in which the films were lost is said by many to have been the golden era of silent film. As a result, the films that remain provide a cultural record of American filmmaking, as the nation became world leaders in cinematic innovations. Of all the major studios, it is considered that Paramount lost the highest number of their silent films while MGM are considered relatively successful in preserving their silent film archives.
At present action is being undertaken to repatriate American silent films that may be located elsewhere around the world in a bid to improve the various archives What is perhaps most important to consider, is that archived films can provide an invaluable insight into the cultural history of any nation at particular periods of time. Also, such archived creative output will have always acted as a precursor to later innovations, improvements and developments and so at the very least should be respected as well as protected. With any luck, these findings will alert companies to the importance of archived films and will encourage them to strive to maintain film archives for future generations to experience and enjoy.