Associated Press has resurrected 3,500 hours of international news footage from thge early 1960s to the mid 1980s which had been buried in a World War Two-era bunker in central London.
The project has unveiled new colour footage of key political figures including a young Yasser Arafat, Libya’s Colonel Gadhafi immediately after taking power, Richard Nixon with Nicolae Ceausescu, Fidel Castro meeting Latin American and Eastern European leaders and a young Saddam Hussein in Paris.
Celebrities also feature and included is footage of Jane Fonda’s controversial visit to North Vietnam at the height of the Vietnam War and Elizabeth Taylor’s star-studded 40th birthday party.
Some 20,000 film cans have been lying untouched for decades in the central London bunker from which general Eisenhower directed the D-Day landings. The film was rendered inaccessible because the text catalogue was scattered in various locations across the UK and US.
AP’s footage business, AP Archive, assembled a team of researchers to piece together the scattered paper records to create a new database for the footage.
The films themselves are being cleaned and restored by Laboratoires Ã‰clair of Paris and then transferred on to high definition videotape for use by professional producers. AP Archive is also digitising the films so that they can be viewed online via its website www.aparchive.com.
This “lost archive” is the legacy of United Press International Television News (UPITN), which whose archive was bought by AP in 1998 when it acquired World Television News.