At the beginning of the twenty-first century, archivists work professionally and diligently to contain their collections, but the sheer amount of materials make containment nearly impossible. Today's curious researchers who access the film archive have the potential to have a far more adventurous and liberating archival experience than their predecessors. The massive amounts of material, the collections that represent nearly every facet of the twentieth century experience, and scanty documentation create practically perfect conditions for those bold researchers who desire to build their own corridors through the past. Certainly, there are practical problems. Too much material with too few guideposts can make archival wandering frustrating. But the frontier conditions of the contemporary film archive may quite possibly represent the future of history making, and if we stop resisting its somewhat chaotic nature, we might begin to better understand its capacity to reshape the way we make sense of the past. Put another way, to accept that the film archive doesn't resemble or function like any other sanctioned storehouse of cultural memory, we have a better chance of understanding how the film archive can better foster innovative methods of accessing and narrating the past.
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