Recently something unique came into my possession: the original 16mm workprint of Manos: The Hands of Fate.

While a workprint of any film would be interesting, it soon became clear that this print was even more special than that. In what was likely a cost-saving measure, the entire film had been shot on silent 16mm Ektachrome reversal stock and was then edited on that same stock. A 35mm blow up negative had been made from that, which was then used for distribution prints and television prints. Therefore, the rough condition of the Manos that we’ve all seen can be attributed to release prints being several generations from the source.

This also meant that, under the dirt and scratches sustained during editing, I was looking at the very film that had run through the camera back in 1966.

Here I would like to share this material as I examine it. Some parts of the print look better than others. At its best, it looks like it was shot yesterday. At its worst, it is held together with 45-year-old tape. These delicate reels cannot be simply thrown onto a projector and watched- but sections can be scanned with some care and effort.

As for what I will do with this fascinating find- I’m looking at my options. But my first priority is now to preserve it.