Juggernauting, Part 1
There are a handful of films that, for whatever reason, I’m intensely attracted to. I spend years trying to track down as much material relating to them as I possibly can. The Juggernaut (Vitagraph, 1915) is one of those films. This post is the first of what will probably be a short and sporadically updated series I’ve decided to call “Juggernauting” detailing the present state of my obsession.
The Juggernaut — “a story of modern life” about greed, corruption, betrayal, and retribution (and a full-scale train wreck!) — was one of the biggest films of 1915. In terms of box office receipts, only The Birth of a Nation was more successful. It played to sold-out houses for weeks on end in its first run, and was re-released twice, in 1917 and 1920.
Today, The Juggernaut only partially survives. Some time ago, I made a reconstruction using the intact fifth part, a fragment of the fourth part, and several production stills from the other three parts. I was rather pleased with it, and to date, the DVD has been one of our top-ten sellers. It’s outdated now. I’ve got many more stills, I’ve got an exhibitor’s handbook that details every scene and quotes many of the titles (previously, I knew the story in outline, but had to make “educated guesses” about the specifics), and the most exciting development of all, I’ve obtained a complete copy of the second part.
The 2012 reconstruction ran for almost 30 minutes exactly. I haven’t begun another yet — I’m still in what I call the “amassing stage” — but I now have 31 minutes of actual footage from the film alone, never mind all the stills I have to use in recreating missing scenes. For the next reconstruction (let’s tentatively call it the 2016 version), I anticipate a new running time of around 50 minutes, which is not far off the film’s original length of 65 minutes.