Movie scenes you may never see

Fernando Martinez, Staff Writer

In a generation where we have access to virtually anything, the thought about lost media and knowing we may never get to experience it for ourselves seems unnatural. Maybe one day these rare items will be recovered, but for now the few facts and evidence we have leaves them to our imagination.

King Kong (1933) “Lost Spider Pit Sequence”

One of the first and most famous examples of lost media is the “Spider Pit Sequence” from the original King Kong. There remains no footage of the original scene, and it is rumored to have only been shown once to the test audiences, which makes it some of the most sought-for footage in film history.

It was debated for a few years if the scene even existed, however the 2005 Peter Jackson remake of King Kong provided evidence and photographs that prove it was once a part of the film.

The scene takes place in Skull Island and has the crew members running away from Kong, before being trapped on a log with a deep valley below them. Kong shakes the crew members off the log into the abyss where they encounter a giant spider, lizard/gator hybrid, giant crab and tentacle creatures. The crew members try to fight them off, however they all get attacked and eaten alive.

Test audiences at the time found the scene too shocking, with reports of members fainting and leaving the screening. In a note by director Merian Cooper, he states that the scene was cut due to the test audience reception, and he felt like it took away the terror from Kong.

A common practice among directors at the time was to burn scenes they no longer use, which makes it less likely that the scene will ever resurface again. Either way, it is possible some footage of it remains somewhere, even after being lost for nearly a century.

90% of movies predating the 1930’s

It may be hard to believe but half of the films made before 1950, and 90% of them made before 1929 are lost forever. Some of these include The Great Gatsby (1926), Cleopatra (1917), and some of the most influential silent films of the time.

Most lost media is thought to have at least one remaining copy, however these silent films will never resurface again, as most of them were intentionally destroyed because films at the time took up a lot of space and had little to no commercial value. Most importantly, a large portion of early film history has been accidently lost as they would spontaneously combust due to being made from nitrate, which would become flammable in hot temperatures, which caused the Universal Pictures fire from 1927, the 1937 Fox vault fire, and the devastating MGM vault fire in 1965, which took a man’s life.

One impact from these films being lost has been that entire careers have been lost along with them. Theda Bara, a famous actress from the time, had starred in over 40 movies, but only 6 of those films are known to still exist, and most of Alfred Hitchcock’s early work is known to be gone forever.

Although some films have been discovered or restored over the years, most of the early film history will simply remain lost.