A few days ago a received a package containing the Blu-Ray box set of the Universal Classic Monsters films of the 1930s through 1950s, specifically the eight films considered essential to film audiences. The entire series excited me, being digitally remastered and rendered in high-definition for the first time, however what excited me most was that Dracula, Frankenstein, and Bride of Frankenstein have had brand-new, painstaking restorations to their picture and sound. As soon as I got the package, I opened the set and placed the Dracula disc into the Blu-Ray player. The next thing that happened was a bit overwhelming.
As I watched Dracula in its restored version for the first time, I was amazed by the clarity of voices and sounds (for so long drowned in a very loud hiss), the spatial depth, and the deep black shadows of the composition. Gone were the lines, the dust, and the scratches that had plagued the picture for so long. I felt in some ways like I had never really seen Dracula until now. True artists were involved in this film, and their work was finally being presented in the way they intended.
I love seeing artwork restored. I love seeing the grime taken off paintings by the great masters to reveal the bright colors underneath. I loved the moment just a month and a half ago when I was able to walk into St. Vincent’s Cathedral for the first time since the architects, contractors, and painters hired by Sojourn had painstakingly undone all the wear and tear of 125 hard years. I had seen the building a year prior. I had seen the plaster cracking, the paint chipping, boards warping, and dust abounding… and yet the place was beautiful. It was a broken beauty. My knees became weak stepping into the renovated sanctuary, flooded with light. I knew the place was beautiful, but I never could have imagined how beautiful it really could be.
We long for a restoration like this in our world. We look around and see so much beauty in the world, but we also know that it isn’t what it could be, what it should be. It is but a shadow of what once was. We long for the day when the grime and muck the curse of sin has left on our world, in our lives, will be wiped away. We long to see the beauty of creation in its full glory, in the beauty that our great Artist intends. The Artist is also the Restorer in this case, and He knows how to not only restore His work, but to make it more beautiful than ever before.
(Cover image: Bela Lugosi and Helen Chandler in Dracula )