EXCLUSIVE: Controversial film screened at Cannes in 1973

A new restoration of Nicholas Ray’s We Can’t Go Home Again will have its world premiere at the Venice Film Festival, followed by its North American premiere at the New York Film Festival.

The experimental film was first screened in Cannes in 1973. This year marks the centenary of Ray’s birth.

Venice director Marco Mueller said: “The sophistication and emotional power of Ray’s multiple images have not yet been matched, even now that digital technology makes this technique immediately accessible.”

The restoration of Ray’s last feature film, to which the director devoted the last few years of his life, has been undertaken by Ray’s widow, Susan, and the Nicholas Ray Foundation, in close collaboration with the EYE Film Institute Netherlands and the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences’ Academy Film Archive. This digital restoration includes the addition of Ray’s own narration, an extensive improvement to the soundtrack using the original recordings not in Ray’s hands when he rushed the film to Cannes, and the removal of defects accumulated over the years.

“The restoration of WCGHA was one of the major preservation projects for EYE Film Institute Netherlands in recent years. The restored film adds a jewel to the EYE collection, which holds more than 37,000 titles, 60% of which consists of internationally recognised masterpieces of cinema from the earliest films until today,” said Sandra den Hamer, CEO of EYE Film Institute Netherlands.

“It’s very satisfying that the first collaboration between EYE Film Institute and the Academy Film Archive was the restoration of this ambitious film created by Nicholas Ray and his students. Working alongside Susan Ray, the restoration team was able to meet all of the challenges posed by this unique project,” added Michael Pogorzelski, director of the Academy Film Archive.

The controversial film has been hailed as both “a visionary masterpiece” and “a fool’s errand”.