For a particular type of cinephile from my generation—those of us born in the early ’60s and raised on a strict diet of left-leaning, somewhat Eurocentric art and culture—the physical act of seeking out and consuming great or hallowed or mythical films was as obsessive as our need to experience these films, when and if we found them. When I say physical, I’m talking about the rumors traded among cinephiles, the stories and the clues. We wrote letters to long-forgotten crew members of neglected masterpieces and arranged meetings in difficult-to-pronounce European cities still shrouded behind the Iron Curtain. We sent money orders or contraband to shady PO boxes in hopes of hitting the mother lode. (That’s how I got my hands on Bergman’s Merry Widow script, crafted as a showcase for Barbra Streisand and set aside when it could not be financed.) Did Jacques Rivette’s twelve-hour-and-forty-minute version of Out 1, noli me tangere, supposedly screened at Le Havre in 1971, really exist? Could sequences from the abandoned version of Werner Herzog’s Fitzcarraldo, the one starring Jason Robards and Mick Jagger (before Robards had a massive heart attack and Klaus Kinski replaced him), be bought on black-market videotape?
more from The Believer here.