Barbara Loden in WANDA

Illustrated lecture; originally presented at the AMIA Reel Thing Technical Symposium, Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (LA), 2010. Lecture made possible with the generous assistance of Ascent Media.


In 1971, Barbara Loden released her first and only feature, WANDA. Lauded by the critics but a flop at the box office, this low-budget exploration of a troubled woman's flight through small town America is now considered a classic, listed as one of the 100 greatest American films of all time by noted critic Jonathan Rosenbaum. Its restoration by the UCLA Film & Television Archive, with funding by the Film Foundation and Gucci, premiered at the Venice Film Festival in September 2010.

Barbara Loden was best known for her acting roles in films including Elia Kazan's SPLENDOR IN THE GRASS. Loden later married Kazan and drifted from the public view before directing her own feature, in which she also played the title role. A world away from her husband's earlier larger-scale works, WANDA was shot in 16mm on location in middle America, using non-actors, and was the epitome of a low-budget independent production.

An important part of restoring WANDA is retaining a sensitivity to its low-budget origins. The original 16mm a/b rolls had suffered damage over the years; damage which was unrepairable using conventional analog methods. Thus its restoration presented an ironic challenge, wherein high-end digital tools were needed to restore a low-cost movie, whose raw production values where a prime characteristic of its unique quality. Digitally restored sequences were integrated into an otherwise photochemical restoration. This presentation integrates a mixture of 35mm film and digital clips, and seeks to demonstrate effective methodologies for utilizing state-of-the-art tools in an aesthetically appropriate restoration of a uniquely analog work.

WANDA (Barbara Loden, (1971): Preserved by the UCLA Film & Television Archive with funding by the Film Foundation and Gucci Laboratory work by Cinetech and Ascent Media Sound Restoration by Audio Mechanics Sound Transfers by NT Picture and Sound

Thanks to: Chris Horak, Margaret Bodde, Jennifer Ahn, Jessica Bursi, Allison Neidermeyer, Marco Joachim, Mimi Brody, Nicholas Proferes, James Healy, Dave Osterkamp, Dave Cetra, James Gott, David Block, Robert Jung, Bill Conner, Kim Gott, Joe Olivier, John Polito, Shawn Jones

see list of restored films here

see list of essays and lectures here