Originally Posted by Heimlich
I've been writing my master's thesis on digital film restoration and remastering. The study that I've done has mainly consisted of interviewing restoration experts. One of the people I got to ask questions via email was Theo Gluck, the Director of Library Restoration and Preservation at Walt Disney Studios. When asked about his stance on wire removal he referred to "20,000 Leagues Under the Sea". Basically what he told me was that there were several debates whether to remove the wires from the giant squid sequence or not. When the scene was first filmed it was staged to happen at sunset, but apparently Walt Disney was upset over how obvious the mechanics were that he ordered the sequence to be restaged and reshot to make it look like it was happening at night. This was done to further help hide the wires. So yes, the decision was to remove the wires.
Here's the thing.....
That decision was made *during production* to re-shoot the sequence to better hide wires and make the scene more realistic. Once the film was complete, the movie was shown theatrically and decades later, released on various formats on home video *unaltered.*
Now due to the fact the technical circumstances of recent restoration *exposed* wires that were tough or impossible to see in the previous theatrical and home video releases, I think (careful) digital removal was fairly warranted in this case. But in many cases, such digital revisionism is not.
Take for instance most early Godzilla movies - even in original theatrical screenings, some wire work was always visible (so was primitive matte lines and a host of other special effects issues). Yet, Toho studios has always left the wire work exposed in all home video releases up through Blu-ray despite otherwise extensive digital "remastering" and color correction done in the past decade. There's a number of Ray Harryhausen's films already out on Blu-ray that have basically been left alone as far as mediocre looking matte lines, film grain issues, etc that *could* have been significantly cleaned up. But part of any film's charm, place in history and the ideal aim of any restoration should be to present the movie *as it was seen* in it's theatrical release. The Wizard of Oz restoration for Blu-ray is a good example - you still can see the wire moving the Lion's tail.