Apr 2, 2024 - News

Why CU Boulder houses Martin Scorsese's personal VHS collection

A stack of three VHS tapes, inside plastic covers, with words describing what's in each tape. The tapes are sitting on top several other tapes.

Martin Scorsese VHS Tape Collection. Photo: Courtesy of University Libraries at the University of Colorado Boulder

Roughly three years after arriving in Boulder without much fanfare, the University of Colorado is still unpacking a tape collection from Martin Scorsese, one of cinema's most celebrated directors.

The big picture: The tapes were recorded under Scorsese's supervision, featuring movies and TV shows he wanted to personally archive, associate professor Erin Espelie tells Axios.

  • Espelie, who works at the university's cinema studies & moving image arts department, says the VHSes were collected by Sikelia Productions, Scorsese's film production company.
  • The tapes were sometimes given to cast members to study.
  • Gina Telaroli, a video archivist for Scorsese whom Espelie knew, helped facilitate the donation.

What they're saying: "Part of it is due to chance — I would say that we were in the right place at the right time," Espelie tells us, saying Scorsese had been trying to archive his material at institutions.

Context: CU Boulder is "uniquely positioned" to receive such material, Espelie says, noting the university has a legacy of housing experimental film material.

The intrigue: While the tapes arrived in great condition, Espelie says the university is working to preserve the material by digitizing it.

  • She notes VHS tapes, which used magnetic tape, are delicate and must be properly stored to avoid damage.

How to watch: The tapes are housed at the Rare and Distinctive Collections inside Norlin Library, and are available for viewing by students, and the public by appointment.

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