So, there is a film to be released in 100 years, and it is supposed to be a sort of sci-fi time capsule.

The film was placed in a safe that was specially made not to be opened for exactly 100 years. It would seem to me that any medium the film was saved on would deteriorate over that time. Would this be the case, or are there media that can last that long under the correct storage conditions? What medium did they actually use for the film and what considerations of preservation, if any, were put into this endeavor?

My theory would be that there must be other copies of the film.

  • 1
    @Radhil Um, re-read the question. It has nothing to do with the actual content of the film. It's about the limitations of current storage technology. If it were stored digitally, then it would certainly fit with serverfault and superuser, since both of those sites cover HDDs/SSDs and other storage hardware. Hardware/technical questions are specifically off-topic at Movies & TV. That's what the Video site is for. Commented Sep 30, 2016 at 16:32
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    I do hope they put a projector in there too, with speakers & a comprehensive note on exactly what 120/240v is & how to generate it at just the right frequency of AC. The cognac, btw, will not be any older than it was when it went in the bottle. Can I call "gimmick"?
    – Tetsujin
    Commented Sep 30, 2016 at 18:28
  • @Tetsujin yes, the bottle must have already been aged, hence its color. It will be interesting if all the components to make the film watched by a large audience will still be in place.
    – Skooba
    Commented Sep 30, 2016 at 18:30
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    What medium should be used for long term, high volume, data storage (archival)? Alas, there's no talk about using film (other than: "Silver-based negatives last hundreds of years if stored correctly."). IMO, if they used developed film, they made a big booboo. Other than etching diamonds, there is no "guaranteed" long term storage system. There most certainly should be other copies of the film, or they're taking an easily avoidable risk.
    – Mazura
    Commented Oct 1, 2016 at 1:11
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    It's a John Malkovich film, and you have questions? ◔_◔
    – Mazura
    Commented Oct 1, 2016 at 1:13

3 Answers 3


It's on actual film, not digital, according to this article:

The finished movie (which was shot on film and will require an old-school projector to exhibit) has been put in a bulletproof safe with a 100-year countdown timer, along with a bottle of Louis XIII.

Film can survive that long in a canister under good conditions, see for example the films of Mitchell and Kenyon from the turn of the 20th century which were found in 1994 and restored (available on DVD).

  • I take it as a no. I wont mention your name then Commented Aug 6, 2021 at 9:45

Early film used various cellulose derived plastics for the basic medium, these (especially cellulose nitrate, which can be used as an explosive) are inherently unstable and can break down very quickly in poor conditions.

However modern film stock is based on polyester which is a lot more stable and even under normal storage conditions should last 100 years without too much trouble.

Furthermore, if the film is locked in a sealed safe it should be a lot better protected than just keeping it on a shelf in a can. For example it could be filled with inert gas and oxygen/moisture scavenging materials. Indeed if these inert dry conditions can be maintained you can preserve many things well for a century.

Also just the fact of being in a safe will protect against ultraviolet radiation which is one of the main things which causes plastics to degrade. Plus being untouched for this time it shouldn't be subject to mechanical damage form handling etc.

For something like this analogue transparent film stock has the advantage that it is essentially a series of real images and so even if film projectors are entirely obsolete by the time it is opened the images will still be there to see and even if all knowledge of films projectors was lost it would still be fairly easy to scan and digitise the content as there is no need to reverse engineer digital codecs.

Really 100 years isn't that long to preserve anything if you set out to do it under controlled conditions. There are still plenty of original photographs from the first world war around and many of them weren't specially archived for a most of their life.

  • I hope they're using variable-area analog sound. Variable-density analog is a less obviously self-documenting format, and anything digital would require extensive reverse-engineering.
    – Mark
    Commented Aug 9, 2023 at 21:14

There are many media that would last long enough.

A metal "father" of the blu-ray version kept away from oxydation (e.g. in oil) can last basically forever, and produce as many new copies as you need after your 100 years.

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