Although I helped some friends with their film school projects back in the day, I've never actually had my name appear in the credits of a commercially released movie. Well, it looks like that's about to change later this year. I have now joined with 400+ other like minded individuals and happily plopped down a few bucks to pay for the digital restoration of... Manos: The Hands Of Fate.
What the... someone's ACTUALLY restoring Manos, you ask? Manos!?! Yes, and the story behind the restoration is as offbeat as the movie itself. As it turns out, cameraman and 16mm film collector Ben Solovey recently purchased a bunch of untitled reels off of eBay and upon receiving his package was startled to learn that he had, quite by accident, acquired the original 16mm work print of Manos. Now as anybody who's seen this thing on MST3K or on one of the many public domain copies floating around knows, this movie looks terrible. But as shown below, the work print is sharp and clear and has never been cropped.
Never has utter crap looked so good. If you’re interested in film restoration (or just Manos), you can check out Mr. Solovey's blog for updates on how the process is going, or you can even go to Kickstarter and make a donation to the project. While the expected costs of the restoration have already been more than covered, there's still some cool swag to be had for donors, including your name in the ‘thanks to’ portion of the credits of the upcoming DVD release. Which is where my name will be. Nay, where it SHOULD be. C'mon, we're talking about Manos here.
Now, if you’ve got more discerning tastes in the arts than I do (and you have a considerable larger amount of spare cash laying about), then you might wish to become instead a member of The Patrons of the Arts in the Vatican Museums, a group dedicated to preserving the vast and unique collection of art housed in the Vatican Museums. My mother took one of the public tours there once and she said it was like walking through heaven. Anything that can bring that kind of response on this earth needs to be maintained for the good of all.
Of course, I’m aware that every so often some well meaning soul (or the occasional ignorant comedian) suggests selling off the Vatican and everything in it to feed the world. But such simplistic statements are so far removed from the reality of property values versus the costs of feeding the poor that they’re almost not worth arguing over. (Seriously, call up some real estate appraisers and ask them to come up with a value for the Vatican. When they stop laughing, let me know.) Besides, as Archbishop Onaiyekan of the African Synod once noted, while money is always needed, “Poverty in the world has to be dealt with by justice. There are other big buildings that need to be moved and sold -- all those big structures, all those unjust financial and economic structures in the world. Those are the things to move, so that the poor can survive.”
In the end, the true value of the Church, it’s “treasury” so to speak, lies in something other than its possessions. The Catechism explains, “We also call these spiritual goods of the communion of saints the Church's treasury, which is ‘not the sum total of the material goods which have accumulated during the course of the centuries. On the contrary the 'treasury of the Church' is the infinite value, which can never be exhausted, which Christ's merits have before God. They were offered so that the whole of mankind could be set free from sin and attain communion with the Father. In Christ, the Redeemer himself, the satisfactions and merits of his Redemption exist and find their efficacy.’ ‘This treasury includes as well the prayers and good works of the Blessed Virgin Mary. They are truly immense, unfathomable, and even pristine in their value before God. In the treasury, too, are the prayers and good works of all the saints, all those who have followed in the footsteps of Christ the Lord and by his grace have made their lives holy and carried out the mission in the unity of the Mystical Body."
So, to paraphrase the old commercial…
Restoring Manos, getting your name in the credits, and snagging a cool T-shirt: $25.00.
Maintaining the Vatican museums so some people can experience a little taste of heaven on earth: $500.00.
Experiencing the love of God through the prayers and good works of His people: Yep, pretty much priceless.