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‘Komiks’ gems restored

/ 10:00 AM November 10, 2014
CHRISTOPHER de Leon in a scene from “Hindi Nahahati ang Langit” that was damaged by molds and fungus marks (left) and later restored by experts

CHRISTOPHER de Leon in a scene from “Hindi Nahahati ang Langit” that was damaged by molds and fungus marks (left) and later restored by experts

Even movies based on komiks novels and radio serials deserve a new lease on life.

After digitally remastering screen gems like Ishmael Bernal’s “Himala,” Eddie Romero’s “Ganito Kami Noon, Paano Kayo Ngayon,” Peque Gallaga’s “Oro, Plata, Mata” and Celso Ad. Castillo’s “Virgin People,” ABS-CBN Archives and Central Digital Lab embarked on a twin restoration project this year: Mike de Leon’s “Hindi Nahahati ang Langit” (1985) and Laurice Guillen’s “Kapag Langit ang Humatol” (1990).

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Although fairly recent productions, both films needed to be saved posthaste. Leo Katigbak, head of ABS-CBN’s Special Projects, recalled that prints of “Hindi Nahahati” had “molds and fungus marks.”

Four months, 1,400 hours

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He explained, “‘Kapag Langit’ had the same issues, plus breathing or video waves and some embedded scratches. Our team also encountered the usual problems— missing frames, watermarks, optical dirt.”

A crew of nine to 12 people usually works on a movie. “On Central Digital’s side, we have several restoration artists, plus a colorist, scanner, editor and audio expert,” Katigbak pointed out. “On ABS-CBN’s side, we have an audio engineer and foley artists. In some cases, we also bring in a composer to reconstruct missing musical score.”

The team worked on “Hindi Nahahati” for 1,400 hours spread over four months, from May to September 2014.

LORNA Tolentino in faded and remastered scenes from the Mike de Leon film

LORNA Tolentino in faded and remastered scenes from the Mike de Leon film

Imperative

The restored “Hindi Nahahati” will be unveiled tomorrow at TriNoma, as part of this year’s Cinema One Originals fest.

The “Kapag Langit” team has clocked in 1,000 hours at press time, and counting. “It will be a photo finish on its premiere night at Trinoma on Nov. 16. Both films required 100 hours of color grading.”

Katigbak said it is imperative to save all films, regardless of genre. “We have [in our archives] representative works of the masters. Mike did just a handful of films and even his most commercial work (like ‘Hindi Nahahati’) is of a higher caliber [than most films].”

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Timeless

Nestor de Villa in faded and remastered scenes from the Mike de Leon film

Nestor de Villa in faded and remastered scenes from the Mike de Leon film

Based on a komiks novel by Nerissa Cabral, “Hindi Nahahati” top-bills Christopher de Leon, Lorna Tolentino, Edu Manzano and Dina Bonnevie. “Kapag Langit,” adapted from a Salvador Royales radio serial, features Vilma Santos, Richard Gomez, Gloria Romero, Charo Santos-Concio and Carmina Villaroel.

These are timeless movies, Katigbak asserted, in spite of the dated costumes and hairstyles. “Both films offer a snapshot of Philippine moviemaking during a particular era.”

Reinstated as director

When “Hindi Nahahati” was first released, De Leon, after a tiff with producers, asked that his name be stricken off the credits. For the remastered film, the name goes back on the credits.

Katigbak recalled, “Mike said he wanted to give us a free hand, especially since the producer (Vanguard Films) was a different party. He appreciated my updates and even gave helpful suggestions and insights.”

At the time Central Digital and ABS-CBN were working on “Hindi Nahahati,” De Leon was busy with the restoration of Lamberto Avellana’s “Portrait of the Artist as Filipino” (1965), which is being restored by the Film Development Council of the Philippines.

Next in line

“Mike was focused on ‘Portrait,’ which was produced by his father (Manuel de Leon of LVN),” Katigbak said.

DINA Bonnevie in “Hindi Nahahati,” said to be a timeless film, in spite of the dated costumes and hairstyles

DINA Bonnevie in “Hindi Nahahati,” said to be a timeless film, in spite of the dated costumes and hairstyles

After tomorrow’s debut, in the pipeline for “Hindi Nahahati” is a commercial run later this month, plus cable airing and an iTunes and DVD release next year. A theatrical release for “Kapag Langit” is set next month.

Next in line for Central Digital Lab and ABS-CBN Archives are a few more restoration projects: Lino Brocka’s “Cain at Abel,” Marilou Diaz-Abaya’s “Karnal,” Celso Ad. Castillo’s “Ang Mahiwagang Mundo ni Pedro Penduko,” Danny Zialcita’s “T-Bird at Ako,” Mel Chionglo’s “Nagsimula sa Puso,” Pio de Castro III’s “Soltero” and Uro Q. de la Cruz’s “Misteryo sa Tuwa,” among other noteworthy titles.

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TAGS: ABS-CBN archives, Central Digital Lab, Comics, digital remastering, Hindi Nahahati ang Langit, Kapag Langi tang Humatol, komiks, Leo Katigbak, Movies, remastered movies
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