It’s a peek at a lost world, a glimpse of a yawning, blinking creature we’ll never see on earth again. The National Film and Sound Archive of Australia has released newly colorized footage of Benjamin, the last-known surviving thylacine, also known as the Tasmanian tiger.
Australian zoologist and naturalist David Fleay filmed the now-extinct marsupial in 1933 and it died in captivity in 1936. But the organization recently scanned the original 35 mm black-and-white negative to 4K archival standards and it was colorized by Paris-based Composite Films.
Composite Films art director Samuel François-Steininger and his team used drawings, sketches, paintings, written descriptions and preserved pelts to get the colors as accurate as possible.
‘I have worked on more than 100 archive-based documentary films and series, most of them very complex,” François-Steininger said in a statement. “But for the thylacine, I faced a different kind of challenge and responsibility: I had to take care of the rare footage, and pay tribute to the last representative of a species, which disappeared 85 years ago.”
About three minutes of silent, black-and-white footage of the Tasmanian tiger exist, with no known color footage.
The Tasmanian tiger, or thylacine, remains a mythic creature in Australian folklore and a number of independent groups have scoured the Tasmanian wilderness seeking signs the tiger still exists. As recently as February, one of these groups claimed to havebut the footage was determined by experts to be of a pademelon.