Why Does The Cinema Replace Rather Than Expand

When colorization became viable some decades back, one of the biggest arguments against it (other than it looked hideously awful in its early stages) was that it was not the original intention of the filmmaker.  It may not have been but I doubt there was much decision making on the filmmaker’s part.  Prior to the sixties, most films were made in black and white even though color was available practically from the start.   If there was a vocal decision, it was to film in color, not the other way around.  Filming in black and white was the default.  By the fifties, it started to even out.  From 1950 to 1959, four Best Picture winners were in black and white, six were in color.  From 1960 t0 1969, just one was in black and white, The Apartment (1960).  Since then, there have been two, Schindler’s List (1993) and The Artist (2011).  So why did color replace black and white so handily, as did sound over silent?  Orson Welles once lamented that when painters discovered acrylic they didn’t stop using oil or watercolor.  When canvas came into prominent use, wood was not abandoned.   So why does the cinema abandon its old in favor of the new?

sound 01

Personally, I think Welles was stacking the deck a bit but I don’t disagree with his overall point.  That is, no, painters didn’t abandon older methods but fewer make their own paints and canvases than they used to as modern technologies have made it more convenient to simply buy pre-made canvases and paints from a store.  They’ve adapted to new technologies, just as cinema, but still use all the mediums in presenting their works.  Cinema, on the other hand, seems to replace rather than expand.  Why is that?

When sound became a technologically and financially feasible way to make movies, silent films disappeared.  Why?  Sure, it’s great to hear dialogue in a movie and sound effects, too, but why was Charlie Chaplin at the head of but a tiny band of enthusiasts who continued to film in silence?  It’s true, some films were silent into the thirties simply due to technology (like the Japanese film industry not having a single sound film until 1931) but, for the most part, if a film was silent in the thirties it was making a statement.  Yet it’s a perfectly valid way to make a movie.  Despite that, when a silent film is made, whether popular, like Silent Movie or The Artist, or lesser known, like Sidewalk Stories or Heart of the World, they’re known more for being silent than anything else.  In other words, True Grit isn’t known for being a sound film anymore than Iron Man 3.  They may be classified according to genre but their choice of medium (black and white or color, silent or sound) is never mentioned.  Had filmmakers continued intermixing silent movies with sound movies, that wouldn’t be the case.

This brings us back to the first part of this post, the part about colorizing films.  Directors didn’t make silent films from choice, it was simply the default method of making them.   And despite the technology to do so, no one has ever gone back and put dialogue and full sound over the silent movies, removed their inter-titles and re-released them as sound movies (I’m not referring to the retrofits that many silent films in production went through at the advent of sound, I’m talking about taking something like <b>Way Down East</b>, dubbing dialogue and sound to it sometime in the 1980s and re-releasing it as a sound film on video).  But if the filmmakers didn’t have a choice to film in silence, why didn’t they ever go back and make it sound?  Because making a silent movie is different than making a sound movie.  Just adding sound doesn’t make it a sound movie and removing sound from, say, Taxi Driver, doesn’t make it a silent movie.  Each method produces a distinctly styled work.  Maybe certain films would work better as sound movies.  Maybe certain sound movies would work better as silents.  Certainly, there are hundreds of films past 1960 that work better in black and white but were shot in color because that had become the default.  And many more that were shot in black and white that would probably work better in color.  But since they were filmed the way they were, attention was paid to lighting and sets and costumes to work with color or black and white so, again, it just doesn’t work to alter them after the fact.  So if filming in silence or sound, in black and white or color, are two such completely different things, doesn’t it make sense to keep them both going, to give filmmakers more options for how to tell their story?  And yes, I know that they can still do it that way if they want to, but when the industry abandoned the silents after the twenties, and black and white for major blockbusters after the fifties,  they cast the die for financial failure for anything that didn’t move with the times.

early horse

How about special effects?  Should we abandon obviously fake backdrops for computer effects or use both?  J.J. Abrams is a fan of both and intermixes the old and the new in his movies constantly.  If it’s simpler to use an in-camera optical illusion instead of post-production computer processing, do it.  If it’s easier to animate from a computer than build a huge model, do that as well.  Do them both rather than abandon one for the other.

But the cinema is a modern art form and always will be.  More than any other, it changes with technology.  It changes in how it’s made as well as how it’s presented.   What that usually means is what is easier is what becomes dominant as long as it is also what is the most profitable.   So if it’s easier to produce a computer animated children’s movie that will make hundreds of millions than a hand drawn movie that might not make back its initial investment, the choice is both easy and obvious.  The problem is, that’s the business side of things and while it may do a film artist’s soul good to make a silent film or a hand drawn animated film or a black and white film, the chance of making money on it is limited, at best.  That’s not the case with other art forms.

A painter has just as good a chance of making next to nothing or millions on their work no matter what they do or what medium they use so they might as well be true to their artistic desires and do what they feel is right.  A filmmaker has no gallery to show their films in without making it to a festival, so to speak, and no chance of future success without conforming to the norms of filmmaking.  And that seems to be the main reason that film, unlike other art forms, tends to replace rather than expand.  Technology drives the industry like no other.   Which means hand drawn, silent, black and white, models and painted mattes have no place to go but the ash bin of film history.  And the (digital) band plays on.

56 Responses Why Does The Cinema Replace Rather Than Expand
Posted By swac44 : June 19, 2013 11:19 am

Sometimes these things go in and out of vogue. Before digital projection took hold, who would have predicted we’d be seeing 3D films in major theatres again, considering how the trend flamed out so noticeably in the 1950s? Granted, I’m not a big fan of the new digi-3D (I have to wear two pairs of glasses, and generally the effect wears off for me after a short period of viewing), but once in a while there’s a title that uses it effectively, like the recent Oz film from Sam Raimi.

My hope is that a new generation of young filmmakers may stumble onto the DIY magic of painted mattes and miniatures, and try to use the old technologies to new and inventive ends. Hey, it worked for Francis Ford Coppola in Dracula.

Posted By swac44 : June 19, 2013 11:19 am

Sometimes these things go in and out of vogue. Before digital projection took hold, who would have predicted we’d be seeing 3D films in major theatres again, considering how the trend flamed out so noticeably in the 1950s? Granted, I’m not a big fan of the new digi-3D (I have to wear two pairs of glasses, and generally the effect wears off for me after a short period of viewing), but once in a while there’s a title that uses it effectively, like the recent Oz film from Sam Raimi.

My hope is that a new generation of young filmmakers may stumble onto the DIY magic of painted mattes and miniatures, and try to use the old technologies to new and inventive ends. Hey, it worked for Francis Ford Coppola in Dracula.

Posted By David Kilmer : June 19, 2013 11:52 am

“And despite the technology to do so, no one has ever gone back and put dialogue and full sound over the silent movies, removed their inter-titles and re-released them as sound movies”

Chaplin did something like this with The Gold Rush, as well as some of his other silent films. He didn’t dub each actor, but did replace titles with narration (by him) and added sound effects and music.

Posted By David Kilmer : June 19, 2013 11:52 am

“And despite the technology to do so, no one has ever gone back and put dialogue and full sound over the silent movies, removed their inter-titles and re-released them as sound movies”

Chaplin did something like this with The Gold Rush, as well as some of his other silent films. He didn’t dub each actor, but did replace titles with narration (by him) and added sound effects and music.

Posted By swac44 : June 19, 2013 11:54 am

What would you call that? Audioization?

Posted By swac44 : June 19, 2013 11:54 am

What would you call that? Audioization?

Posted By Greg Ferrara : June 19, 2013 1:11 pm

Swac, I’m not a big fan of Coppola’s Dracula except for the miniatures and in-camera effects. It looks great.

David – That’s true, and in fact, that’s how I first saw The Gold Rush. I couldn’t find a copy of it for years that actually was the original silent film.

And even though I would object to such an alteration, I’m sometimes curious as to how expertly a team of actors, foley artists, musicians and computer technicians could audiofy a movie from the silent period.

Posted By Greg Ferrara : June 19, 2013 1:11 pm

Swac, I’m not a big fan of Coppola’s Dracula except for the miniatures and in-camera effects. It looks great.

David – That’s true, and in fact, that’s how I first saw The Gold Rush. I couldn’t find a copy of it for years that actually was the original silent film.

And even though I would object to such an alteration, I’m sometimes curious as to how expertly a team of actors, foley artists, musicians and computer technicians could audiofy a movie from the silent period.

Posted By Anthony Balducci : June 19, 2013 1:42 pm

A television syndicator, La Miniatura Film, “audiofied” Larry Semon silent comedies for broadcast on Italian television in the 1950s. A sample of their efforts can be found at the following link:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p6QCLsKLw6E

I feel that these films should bother me more than they do.

Posted By Anthony Balducci : June 19, 2013 1:42 pm

A television syndicator, La Miniatura Film, “audiofied” Larry Semon silent comedies for broadcast on Italian television in the 1950s. A sample of their efforts can be found at the following link:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p6QCLsKLw6E

I feel that these films should bother me more than they do.

Posted By Greg Ferrara : June 19, 2013 2:00 pm

Anthony – I’ve never seen those, thanks for the link.

Posted By Greg Ferrara : June 19, 2013 2:00 pm

Anthony – I’ve never seen those, thanks for the link.

Posted By Andrew : June 19, 2013 3:12 pm

I read somewhere that because of its rarity, black and white is actually more expensive than color. Sort of an ironical situation where the mainstream movie that should be in color is the one that can afford BW but the smaller film that would be better suited to BW can’t afford it. (Schindler’s list is that rare intersection but is pretty atypical)

Posted By Andrew : June 19, 2013 3:12 pm

I read somewhere that because of its rarity, black and white is actually more expensive than color. Sort of an ironical situation where the mainstream movie that should be in color is the one that can afford BW but the smaller film that would be better suited to BW can’t afford it. (Schindler’s list is that rare intersection but is pretty atypical)

Posted By Greg Ferrara : June 19, 2013 3:45 pm

Andrew, the thing is, now, with digital you can instantly make something black and white or color in the editing stage. As a result, I think we’ll see a wider variety as techniques like those used in Sin City (2005) become easier and easier to manipulate.

Posted By Greg Ferrara : June 19, 2013 3:45 pm

Andrew, the thing is, now, with digital you can instantly make something black and white or color in the editing stage. As a result, I think we’ll see a wider variety as techniques like those used in Sin City (2005) become easier and easier to manipulate.

Posted By Anonymous : June 19, 2013 4:55 pm

The original crude/ghastly COLORIZATION process has been perfected to an astonishing degree. Check out legendfilms.net/geniusproducts.com. Ray Harryhausen worked with them, supervising the colorization of ALL his B&W films. This company’s list of titles is impressive; and bear-in-mind that each of the B&W films is meticulously restored first, and then colorized. Each of their releases contain BOTH versions + extras. (Years ago, when all of Hollywood was hysterical in their condemnation of the process, they always conveniently ignored the fact that all of these B&W films were first RESTORED/REMASTERED. hello?)

Posted By Anonymous : June 19, 2013 4:55 pm

The original crude/ghastly COLORIZATION process has been perfected to an astonishing degree. Check out legendfilms.net/geniusproducts.com. Ray Harryhausen worked with them, supervising the colorization of ALL his B&W films. This company’s list of titles is impressive; and bear-in-mind that each of the B&W films is meticulously restored first, and then colorized. Each of their releases contain BOTH versions + extras. (Years ago, when all of Hollywood was hysterical in their condemnation of the process, they always conveniently ignored the fact that all of these B&W films were first RESTORED/REMASTERED. hello?)

Posted By theartisticpackrat : June 19, 2013 6:01 pm

“That’s true, and in fact, that’s how I first saw The Gold Rush. I couldn’t find a copy of it for years that actually was the original silent film.”

Have you checked out the new Criterion Collection version? It has both the 1942 sound version, made by Chaplin, and the original 1925 silent version. What makes the release so good is that it not only has the silent version but it has Chaplin’s 1942 score for the film, expanded in some parts where there is extra footage or intertitles that Chaplin cut out for the sound version, but it also was remastered and looks better than it has in a long time. You should check it out if you haven’t already.

Also, I love filmmakers who mix up techniques. Guillermo del Toro is known to mix-up special effects with digital work, guys in suits, make-up, models, sets, matte paintings, etc. It was great way to do it. Peter Jackson is known for doing it, too, but I think he’s been moving away from it with The Hobbit films.

I would love for more silent films to be made. It’s a different way to tell a movie story and should still be encouraged. Same for black and white films. Actually made a short silent film myself, which wasn’t very good, and am working on a new, more ambitious, and hopefully better one to be released as soon as possible.

Posted By theartisticpackrat : June 19, 2013 6:01 pm

“That’s true, and in fact, that’s how I first saw The Gold Rush. I couldn’t find a copy of it for years that actually was the original silent film.”

Have you checked out the new Criterion Collection version? It has both the 1942 sound version, made by Chaplin, and the original 1925 silent version. What makes the release so good is that it not only has the silent version but it has Chaplin’s 1942 score for the film, expanded in some parts where there is extra footage or intertitles that Chaplin cut out for the sound version, but it also was remastered and looks better than it has in a long time. You should check it out if you haven’t already.

Also, I love filmmakers who mix up techniques. Guillermo del Toro is known to mix-up special effects with digital work, guys in suits, make-up, models, sets, matte paintings, etc. It was great way to do it. Peter Jackson is known for doing it, too, but I think he’s been moving away from it with The Hobbit films.

I would love for more silent films to be made. It’s a different way to tell a movie story and should still be encouraged. Same for black and white films. Actually made a short silent film myself, which wasn’t very good, and am working on a new, more ambitious, and hopefully better one to be released as soon as possible.

Posted By BPiper : June 19, 2013 9:27 pm

“Should we abandon obviously fake backdrops for computer effects or use both? ”

A more accurate question would be “Should we abandon obviously fake backdrops for obviously fake computer effects”.

Posted By BPiper : June 19, 2013 9:27 pm

“Should we abandon obviously fake backdrops for computer effects or use both? ”

A more accurate question would be “Should we abandon obviously fake backdrops for obviously fake computer effects”.

Posted By Gene : June 19, 2013 9:46 pm

Of course, film has always been commercialized but within the last few years it has gone commercial at a exponentially ridiculous rate. I’ve seen very little 3D that is that great, and refused to see Gatsby that way (which was beyond a disappointment as it is). There are good movies out there, even some of the summer blockbusters, but most are just indoor thrill rides with greater and greater CGI and lesser and lesser character development, or thoughtfulness. I love thrill rides, in an amusement park. I love superhero movies and cartoons and animation and good entertainment but just as a good deal of contemporary art is trending towards the utterly absurd and vapid (which sells to those with deep pockets) so too Hollywood is able to peddle its goods to those impressed with what is absurdly vapid.

Posted By Gene : June 19, 2013 9:46 pm

Of course, film has always been commercialized but within the last few years it has gone commercial at a exponentially ridiculous rate. I’ve seen very little 3D that is that great, and refused to see Gatsby that way (which was beyond a disappointment as it is). There are good movies out there, even some of the summer blockbusters, but most are just indoor thrill rides with greater and greater CGI and lesser and lesser character development, or thoughtfulness. I love thrill rides, in an amusement park. I love superhero movies and cartoons and animation and good entertainment but just as a good deal of contemporary art is trending towards the utterly absurd and vapid (which sells to those with deep pockets) so too Hollywood is able to peddle its goods to those impressed with what is absurdly vapid.

Posted By Doug : June 20, 2013 1:58 am

Well, sure, colorizing movies not only brings film closer to what
we experience in the real world, but the fact of color film being an option made B&W a choice. The sepia palette at the beginning of “Oz The Great and Powerful” was a choice which I understood but could have done without-it was ‘too cute’.
” painters didn’t abandon older methods but fewer make their own paints and canvases than they used to as modern technologies have made it more convenient to simply buy pre-made canvases and paints from a store.”
I don’t worry that film makers will no longer “make their own paints and canvas”. The art isn’t in the materials, but in how they are used. Chaplin would have LOVED “Final Cut Pro”, but did just fine with what he had.

Posted By Doug : June 20, 2013 1:58 am

Well, sure, colorizing movies not only brings film closer to what
we experience in the real world, but the fact of color film being an option made B&W a choice. The sepia palette at the beginning of “Oz The Great and Powerful” was a choice which I understood but could have done without-it was ‘too cute’.
” painters didn’t abandon older methods but fewer make their own paints and canvases than they used to as modern technologies have made it more convenient to simply buy pre-made canvases and paints from a store.”
I don’t worry that film makers will no longer “make their own paints and canvas”. The art isn’t in the materials, but in how they are used. Chaplin would have LOVED “Final Cut Pro”, but did just fine with what he had.

Posted By Emgee : June 20, 2013 5:16 am

“no one has ever gone back and put dialogue and full sound over the silent movies.” Reminds me of when i was a kid and they dubbed “funny” voices and “kooky” sound effects over slapstick shorts. Whas that ever annoying.Don’t….just: don’t.

Posted By Emgee : June 20, 2013 5:16 am

“no one has ever gone back and put dialogue and full sound over the silent movies.” Reminds me of when i was a kid and they dubbed “funny” voices and “kooky” sound effects over slapstick shorts. Whas that ever annoying.Don’t….just: don’t.

Posted By Greg Ferrara : June 20, 2013 9:03 am

Anon – I found out about Legend Films a couple of years ago when I saw 20 Million Miles to Earth in color and could’ve sworn it was in black and white. That’s how good it was. Then, I found out that Harryhausen wanted it filmed in color to begin with but couldn’t afford it so he had it colorized. So to complete this mind-bending circle, that means when you watch the original black and white release, you’re not watching the original intention of the filmmaker. When you watch the colorized version, you are.

Posted By Greg Ferrara : June 20, 2013 9:03 am

Anon – I found out about Legend Films a couple of years ago when I saw 20 Million Miles to Earth in color and could’ve sworn it was in black and white. That’s how good it was. Then, I found out that Harryhausen wanted it filmed in color to begin with but couldn’t afford it so he had it colorized. So to complete this mind-bending circle, that means when you watch the original black and white release, you’re not watching the original intention of the filmmaker. When you watch the colorized version, you are.

Posted By Greg Ferrara : June 20, 2013 9:07 am

To further on a point, if you refuse to see a movie in 3-D, as Gene mentioned, are you refusing to see it presented in the original intention of the filmmaker? I, too, avoid 3-D like the plague. I’ve seen one (of the new crop) in its original version, Avatar, and I hated the experience. After that, I made a point to see the non-3-D versions. When I saw Hugo, I saw the non-3-D, and that was directed by Scorsese who I trust to do it right but still, no way.

Posted By Greg Ferrara : June 20, 2013 9:07 am

To further on a point, if you refuse to see a movie in 3-D, as Gene mentioned, are you refusing to see it presented in the original intention of the filmmaker? I, too, avoid 3-D like the plague. I’ve seen one (of the new crop) in its original version, Avatar, and I hated the experience. After that, I made a point to see the non-3-D versions. When I saw Hugo, I saw the non-3-D, and that was directed by Scorsese who I trust to do it right but still, no way.

Posted By swac44 : June 20, 2013 9:41 am

Years ago Hollywood (well, the classic-movie-loving part of it anyway) was “hysterical in their condemnation of the process” because it looked AWFUL. I remember seeing the colourized versions of It’s a Wonderful Life and Casablanca and thinking they looked like an old coloured lobby card come to life. And not in a good way. They couldn’t get flesh tones right, and any time there was a scene that called for delicate shading or involved smoke or some other fine detail, the process would fall flat on its keester.

Obviously digital technology has gotten way more sophisticated, and colourization can be done with greater ease and accuracy. But Harryhausen aside, it still involves an artistic decision that the original filmmakers had no part in. Should a film look like saturated Technicolor or more natural tones? Even in Technicolor, there’s a vast difference between the look of The Gang’s All Here and Gone With the Wind or Leave Her to Heaven.

But if it entices more young viewers to watch Three Stooges or Laurel & Hardy shorts, or Shirley Temple features, I agree that could be seen as a positive, and eventually they may get around to flipping those discs over for the original B&W versions. As a kid, I had no problem watching Frankenstein or The Beast From 20,000 Fathoms because they were in black and white, and I also watched The Addams Family and reruns from the first season of Gilligan’s Island that way, without wishing someone would wave a wand and run them through a rainbow. Then again, I was probably an odd little kid.

Posted By swac44 : June 20, 2013 9:41 am

Years ago Hollywood (well, the classic-movie-loving part of it anyway) was “hysterical in their condemnation of the process” because it looked AWFUL. I remember seeing the colourized versions of It’s a Wonderful Life and Casablanca and thinking they looked like an old coloured lobby card come to life. And not in a good way. They couldn’t get flesh tones right, and any time there was a scene that called for delicate shading or involved smoke or some other fine detail, the process would fall flat on its keester.

Obviously digital technology has gotten way more sophisticated, and colourization can be done with greater ease and accuracy. But Harryhausen aside, it still involves an artistic decision that the original filmmakers had no part in. Should a film look like saturated Technicolor or more natural tones? Even in Technicolor, there’s a vast difference between the look of The Gang’s All Here and Gone With the Wind or Leave Her to Heaven.

But if it entices more young viewers to watch Three Stooges or Laurel & Hardy shorts, or Shirley Temple features, I agree that could be seen as a positive, and eventually they may get around to flipping those discs over for the original B&W versions. As a kid, I had no problem watching Frankenstein or The Beast From 20,000 Fathoms because they were in black and white, and I also watched The Addams Family and reruns from the first season of Gilligan’s Island that way, without wishing someone would wave a wand and run them through a rainbow. Then again, I was probably an odd little kid.

Posted By swac44 : June 20, 2013 9:54 am

Ah, I may have misread the post by anonymous, when he was referring to hysteria over colourization, I think he meant the Legend releases from a decade or so ago, not the original colourization furour that greated Ted Turner’s earliest efforts to make the process popular (and prompted Orson Welles to ask him to keep his “box of crayons” away from Citizen Kane).

The plus side of those Legend titles is that they also tended to include the original B&W versions on the flipside (and, occasionally, humorous commentary from MST3K’s Mike Nelson, depending on the film). I remember watching their Night of the Living Dead (which was dreadfully colourized years before) and thinking it was an improvement over the old process, but colour only seemed to make the film less scary, detracting from its original intent instead of adding to it.

Posted By swac44 : June 20, 2013 9:54 am

Ah, I may have misread the post by anonymous, when he was referring to hysteria over colourization, I think he meant the Legend releases from a decade or so ago, not the original colourization furour that greated Ted Turner’s earliest efforts to make the process popular (and prompted Orson Welles to ask him to keep his “box of crayons” away from Citizen Kane).

The plus side of those Legend titles is that they also tended to include the original B&W versions on the flipside (and, occasionally, humorous commentary from MST3K’s Mike Nelson, depending on the film). I remember watching their Night of the Living Dead (which was dreadfully colourized years before) and thinking it was an improvement over the old process, but colour only seemed to make the film less scary, detracting from its original intent instead of adding to it.

Posted By BPiper : June 20, 2013 3:28 pm

“I saw 20 Million Miles to Earth in color and could’ve sworn it was in black and white. That’s how good it was. Then, I found out that Harryhausen wanted it filmed in color to begin with but couldn’t afford it so he had it colorized.”

So he said in later years, but for decades Harryhausen maintained that he preferred to shoot in B & W and in fact it was only at Charles Schneer’s insistence that SEVENTH VOYAGE OF SINBAD was shot in color.

Posted By BPiper : June 20, 2013 3:28 pm

“I saw 20 Million Miles to Earth in color and could’ve sworn it was in black and white. That’s how good it was. Then, I found out that Harryhausen wanted it filmed in color to begin with but couldn’t afford it so he had it colorized.”

So he said in later years, but for decades Harryhausen maintained that he preferred to shoot in B & W and in fact it was only at Charles Schneer’s insistence that SEVENTH VOYAGE OF SINBAD was shot in color.

Posted By Lamar : June 21, 2013 10:30 am

One big reason color replaced B&W is when the TV networks all went full color (mid 60s) and studios got less for the television sale of a B&W movie than they did for one in color. John Huston and Billy Wilder both lamented the fact they couldn’t shoot in B&W any longer, I imagine there were plenty of others who felt the same way.

Posted By Lamar : June 21, 2013 10:30 am

One big reason color replaced B&W is when the TV networks all went full color (mid 60s) and studios got less for the television sale of a B&W movie than they did for one in color. John Huston and Billy Wilder both lamented the fact they couldn’t shoot in B&W any longer, I imagine there were plenty of others who felt the same way.

Posted By tdraicer : June 21, 2013 11:25 am

We had only a black and white tv until 1971-if I hadn’t gone to the movies I wouldn’t have known anything was in color.

Posted By tdraicer : June 21, 2013 11:25 am

We had only a black and white tv until 1971-if I hadn’t gone to the movies I wouldn’t have known anything was in color.

Posted By Doug : June 21, 2013 1:24 pm

I can remember my first sight of color TV-my family was visiting friends, and the first image I saw was the NBC Peacock.
Mighty cool.

Posted By Doug : June 21, 2013 1:24 pm

I can remember my first sight of color TV-my family was visiting friends, and the first image I saw was the NBC Peacock.
Mighty cool.

Posted By vp19 : June 21, 2013 5:27 pm

Ah, I may have misread the post by anonymous, when he was referring to hysteria over colourization, I think he meant the Legend releases from a decade or so ago, not the original colourization furour that greated Ted Turner’s earliest efforts to make the process popular (and prompted Orson Welles to ask him to keep his “box of crayons” away from Citizen Kane).

I don’t believe Turner was involved in colorization at the time of Welles’ death in October 1985. That year, I believe Hal Roach Studios pioneered colorizing features with a version of “Topper” (which Roach had produced in 1937) and some other firms followed suit, Turner among them. He unfairly gets the brunt of the blame for the colorization of films in the late ’80s (though he made relatively few of them). I prefer to remember Ted for his work with film preservation and restoration, as he turned a library of films people thought had little value into the initial version of TNT (whose programming was at first dominated by classic movies, albeit with commercials) and ultimately evolved into commercial-free TCM in 1994. I praised Ted in an entry of mine at “Carole & Co.” nearly two years ago: http://carole-and-co.livejournal.com/438472.html

Posted By vp19 : June 21, 2013 5:27 pm

Ah, I may have misread the post by anonymous, when he was referring to hysteria over colourization, I think he meant the Legend releases from a decade or so ago, not the original colourization furour that greated Ted Turner’s earliest efforts to make the process popular (and prompted Orson Welles to ask him to keep his “box of crayons” away from Citizen Kane).

I don’t believe Turner was involved in colorization at the time of Welles’ death in October 1985. That year, I believe Hal Roach Studios pioneered colorizing features with a version of “Topper” (which Roach had produced in 1937) and some other firms followed suit, Turner among them. He unfairly gets the brunt of the blame for the colorization of films in the late ’80s (though he made relatively few of them). I prefer to remember Ted for his work with film preservation and restoration, as he turned a library of films people thought had little value into the initial version of TNT (whose programming was at first dominated by classic movies, albeit with commercials) and ultimately evolved into commercial-free TCM in 1994. I praised Ted in an entry of mine at “Carole & Co.” nearly two years ago: http://carole-and-co.livejournal.com/438472.html

Posted By swac44 : June 21, 2013 6:14 pm

The 1990 book Citizen Kane: The 50th Anniversary Album has Welles reportedly telling Henry Jaglom the famous “box of crayons” quote shortly before his death in 1985, and Turner’s colourized Casablanca didn’t turn up on TV until 1988. There’s also a wire story online from 1994 saying Turner was dropping the process after trying it out on roughly 120 films. I don’t know how true that number is though.

The earliest piece I could find connecting Turner and colourization dates from 1986, which means his plans for the process could have been floating about in the industry before Welles died. According to Wikipedia (not the most reliable source of info, I know), Turner said he was considering colourizing Citizen Kane, but later said he only meant that as a joke to get under the skin of critics of the process.
http://news.google.com/newspapers?id=AoIuAAAAIBAJ&sjid=w58FAAAAIBAJ&pg=3482,10426589&dq=ted-turner+colorization&hl=en

And here’s the AP story from 1989 quoting Jaglom as to Welles’ remarks, make of that what you will (who’s to say he didn’t make it up to add weight to his anti-colorization argument?):
http://news.google.com/newspapers?id=xt4cAAAAIBAJ&sjid=u2MEAAAAIBAJ&pg=6028,160091&dq=ted-turner+colorization&hl=en

Posted By swac44 : June 21, 2013 6:14 pm

The 1990 book Citizen Kane: The 50th Anniversary Album has Welles reportedly telling Henry Jaglom the famous “box of crayons” quote shortly before his death in 1985, and Turner’s colourized Casablanca didn’t turn up on TV until 1988. There’s also a wire story online from 1994 saying Turner was dropping the process after trying it out on roughly 120 films. I don’t know how true that number is though.

The earliest piece I could find connecting Turner and colourization dates from 1986, which means his plans for the process could have been floating about in the industry before Welles died. According to Wikipedia (not the most reliable source of info, I know), Turner said he was considering colourizing Citizen Kane, but later said he only meant that as a joke to get under the skin of critics of the process.
http://news.google.com/newspapers?id=AoIuAAAAIBAJ&sjid=w58FAAAAIBAJ&pg=3482,10426589&dq=ted-turner+colorization&hl=en

And here’s the AP story from 1989 quoting Jaglom as to Welles’ remarks, make of that what you will (who’s to say he didn’t make it up to add weight to his anti-colorization argument?):
http://news.google.com/newspapers?id=xt4cAAAAIBAJ&sjid=u2MEAAAAIBAJ&pg=6028,160091&dq=ted-turner+colorization&hl=en

Posted By swac44 : June 21, 2013 6:19 pm

And while we’re on the topic, here’s a 1988 piece by Roger Ebert, offering his opinion (just guess what side he’s on…) on the broadcast of a colourized Casablanca.

http://www.rogerebert.com/interviews/casablanca-gets-colorized-but-dont-play-it-again-ted

None of this is meant to defame Ted Turner, if it wasn’t for Turner Classic Movies I wouldn’t have cable at all, and I appreciate all he’s done for film preservation since admitting the error of his way back in 1994.

Posted By swac44 : June 21, 2013 6:19 pm

And while we’re on the topic, here’s a 1988 piece by Roger Ebert, offering his opinion (just guess what side he’s on…) on the broadcast of a colourized Casablanca.

http://www.rogerebert.com/interviews/casablanca-gets-colorized-but-dont-play-it-again-ted

None of this is meant to defame Ted Turner, if it wasn’t for Turner Classic Movies I wouldn’t have cable at all, and I appreciate all he’s done for film preservation since admitting the error of his way back in 1994.

Posted By jbryant : June 23, 2013 9:08 pm

TOPPER and WAY OUT WEST were colorized in 1985; Welles died in October of that year.

Posted By jbryant : June 23, 2013 9:08 pm

TOPPER and WAY OUT WEST were colorized in 1985; Welles died in October of that year.

Posted By robbushblog : June 24, 2013 1:51 pm

Greg- Hugo is the ONLY movie for which I recommend people see the 3-D version. Every other 3-D movie I’ve seen has just been a waste of money. I don’t see them anymore. It’s rather pointless because the effect becomes less and less as the movie progresses, as to become almost totally unnoticeable.

The opening of Oz the Great and Powerful was in black and white, not sepia.

And, I think that CGI and other visual techniques can be used together, and very often the results are better than only using one method. If the technique that would look the best for a particular shot was used, we would be taken out of a movie far less than we often are by bad CGI or bad green screen.

Posted By robbushblog : June 24, 2013 1:51 pm

Greg- Hugo is the ONLY movie for which I recommend people see the 3-D version. Every other 3-D movie I’ve seen has just been a waste of money. I don’t see them anymore. It’s rather pointless because the effect becomes less and less as the movie progresses, as to become almost totally unnoticeable.

The opening of Oz the Great and Powerful was in black and white, not sepia.

And, I think that CGI and other visual techniques can be used together, and very often the results are better than only using one method. If the technique that would look the best for a particular shot was used, we would be taken out of a movie far less than we often are by bad CGI or bad green screen.

Posted By Doug : June 24, 2013 3:49 pm

Rob, you are right-I remembered it as sepia, but that was only in my head. I like 3D just fine if it is done with imagination-someday it may be so seamless that we won’t even notice it…but regular films may seem ‘flat’ to us.

Posted By Doug : June 24, 2013 3:49 pm

Rob, you are right-I remembered it as sepia, but that was only in my head. I like 3D just fine if it is done with imagination-someday it may be so seamless that we won’t even notice it…but regular films may seem ‘flat’ to us.

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