Restoration and colorization of movie

In December, 2012, a start was given to the long process of restoration and colourisation of «Arshin Mal Alan». Management of Heydar Aliyev Foundation and «AtaHolding» highly valued the potential and value of this project and gave their agreement for it to commence.

Why «Arshin Mal Alan»?

Firstly, the year 2013 - is a 100-year Jubilee for the most loved Operetta of Uzeyir Hajibeyli.

And secondly, in 1945, only one piece of material was shot onto a colour film and that was The Victory Parade on the Red Square in Moscow. In those years colour film was very much in deficit as well as its cost was sky high, as was the black and white's cost.

The Director, Rza Takhmasib could only wish to shoot the musical fairy tale in colour, as it should have been shown to the audience, but in post war country, it was impossible. 

Notwithstanding that, the film turned out to be more successful than planned. During the first 45 days of airing, this film was watched by over 16 million viewers (thereafter the counting was stopped). Only in internal airing, this film earned 1000 times more than the cost of shooting.

After 20 years, a remake of «Arshin Mal Alan» was shot, but it was received by viewers with the similar rate of greateness of failure with comparison to success of the original film. 

«Arshin Mal Alan» of 1945, was made by a success a line of amazing actors headed by Rashid. In order persuade him to play in the movie, Tofik Kuliyev and Niyazi, created and artificial situation at Baku train station. The train, heading to Tbilisi, where Rashid was living at the time, left, whereas Rashid and Tofik and future maestro were sent to the police station for «investigation». This way the director of the movie, Rza Takhmasib got his chance to persuade Rashid to play the lead role in the movie.

(Rashid's fate was predecided as the character of Asker the cloth peddler, was… Rashid Behbudov's father, Madjid-bey Beybutali, who was making extra money by helping his father to sell cloth, before he became a professional singer.  This story left a real step on the young Uzeir's mind, that he decided to write an operetta based on it.)

All of these names – is the culture of Azerbaijan, self made people who created a real epic.

The epic, which Azerbaijan almost lost. In the begenning of 1990s, the film that was kept at Gosfilmofond, literally dissapeared somewhere between the Russian and Azerbaijani border. During those years, there were problems in both countries, so keeping  cultural heritage was hardly a priority, that is why when one of the greatest films of Azerbaijan almost got lost, nobody really noticed anything. 

When we started looking for the film, which was more or less suitable for restoration, we found out that in a dusty archive someone saved one single copy piece of the film, that was played great many times at the republic's cinemas.

Once the restoration masters saw the state that the film was in, they came to shock just foreseeing the amount of work that was before them.  Thank God, these people were the greatest masters of their work – winners of «Oscar» award and other Hollywood residents. Our position matched the position that of AtaHolding: no compromise, only the top level.

The number of people that worked over the restoration and colourisation of «Arshin Mal Alan» was greater than the number of people that worked when it was originally shot. The work was taking place in 4 countries of the world. Within this project, only the staff of Peachline traveled around the world, twice.

We appreached specialists literally for each and every scene of the movie, who did not leave the archives, tiredlessly looking for the sources in order to keep the historical accuracy in every second of the movie.  The work over the film, that was almost ruined in places, reminded us a surgical operation. The main condition was not to damage it. This is how «Arshin Mal Alan» was remastered and reborn.

The original sound was also restored and remastered to the maximum possible level together with the magical voice of Rashid Behbudov and the music of Uzeyir Hajibeyli. We got it all back. In colour, how even the makers of the original movie in 1945, couldn't even dream of.