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Bring back the old Technicolor


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There's a really good Technicolor documentary called "Glorious Technicolor" (narrated by Angela Lansbury) that was made in, I believe '98.  I'm not sure if it's on You Tube or somewhere else on the internet; but I watched it as it was part of a special feature on "The Adventures of Robin Hood" Blu-Ray. 

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I've been watching The Egyptian (thanks to Arturo, who called me attention to it with his Fox listings). This time, it was shown in HD, as it should be. It's not Technicolor -- the credits say "Color by Deluxe," but it is gorgeous. I saw the film when I was a child and remembered a particular shade of blue, all these years. 

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For me the technicolor films are a bit much. The colors are too in-your-face intense. Too bright, too full color spectrum, too unrealistic, too look how we can dazzle you now, they take me out of the magic. Take Robin Hood for example the costumes look as if they had access to laundromats & brightener laundry detergents. 

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Take Robin Hood for example the costumes look as if they had access to laundromats & brightener laundry detergents. 

 

True, true, true, but I would not want to see a dirty, stinky, wrinkled Robin Hood. :)

 

Back in the 1940s and 50s, some young women would use vivid Technicolor type makeup and brightly colored dresses, and they usually looked fabulous. :)

 

The other drab girls looked homely to me.

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I was just enthralled by one of them June Allyson technicolor vehicles wednesday night. Those vibrant rich technicolor hues so I say being back 1940s technnicolor richness. 

 

 

 

I agree. I just loved those bright vivid Technicolor Betty Grable films of the 1940s.

 

 

Pin_Up_Girl12.jpg

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Technicolor is gorgeous.  After watching the Technicolor documentary that I mentioned earlier, I found it amazing that they were able to achieve such beautiful (and realistic, albeit, bright) colors using the three strip process.  MGM's Technicolor musicals were gorgeous.  Many stars, while doing "okay" in the black and white films, were able to reinvent themselves as Technicolor stars.  Lucille Ball is a great example of this.  While she was an okay star in black and white films, when she moved to MGM and Sydney Guilaroff dyed her hair that signature red shade, it completely changed her career. 

 

Favorite Technicolor films:

The Adventures of Robin Hood

An American in Paris

Anchors Aweigh

Dodge City

Easter Parade

Gentlemen Prefer Blondes

Meet Me in St. Louis

Those Harvey Girls

On the Town

Singin' in the Rain

The Wizard of Oz

 

I didn't realize it; but I guess the Disney movies were filmed in Technicolor as well.  The great thing about this film process is that the colors last.  It's amazing how gorgeous the colors are in films that are 70+ years old like The Adventures of Robin Hood and The Wizard of Oz.  In, I believe the 1950s, when Kodak came out with their color film, it sort of stole the thunder from Technicolor as it was cheaper to produce and an easier process.  However, the colors didn't look as vibrant and beautiful and didn't last as long.  Many of these films have had to be extensively restored just so that the color is even remotely presentable. 

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First watching classic movies, I didn't understand what all the Technicolor hoopla was about - the colors looked just "false". It took a few years and all of a sudden I came around to really liking the lighting and tones of Technicolor. It has more to do with lighting than color, doesn't it?

 

Now MrTiki is the film newbie and he hates Technicolor. We've discussed the whys and taste, etc. It will be interesting to see if he comes around to liking it, as I have. Since experiencing it myself, I completely understand negative feelings about it. Do many go through the hate/love thing with Technicolor?

 

It sure beats "cooking" colors in PhotoShop, like too many movies (& photographers) do these days-yuk!

 

We just saw a screening of THE THIEF OF BAGDAD on film: bee-oo-tiful!

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Something about the name; "Technicolor"...makes me think that the claim is the color will be technically correct.  As a photographer, I've never seen a color film that delivers this.  Even images caught on digital cameras have that medium react to certain colors and lighting that don't ring true to what was actually captured.  Video tape does this, too.  I recall that there was a news crew taking footage in my old Detroit neighborhood one day, due to some breaking story, and when I saw this footage on the newscast, it was remarkable how nice and CLEAN the neighborhood looked!  Not like "real life" at all.

 

The best we can hope for is a color process that pleases the eye, and Technicolor certainly achieved that.  That it can respond to lighting to give a grittier or more dramatic look is something for the technicians to muddle over, and some have done a fantastic job of this( THE GODFATHER in particular).

 

Sepiatone

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Something about the name; "Technicolor"...makes me think that the claim is the color will be technically correct.  As a photographer, I've never seen a color film that delivers this.  Even images caught on digital cameras have that medium react to certain colors and lighting that don't ring true to what was actually captured.  Video tape does this, too.  I recall that there was a news crew taking footage in my old Detroit neighborhood one day, due to some breaking story, and when I saw this footage on the newscast, it was remarkable how nice and CLEAN the neighborhood looked!  Not like "real life" at all.

 

 

 

Saaaay, didn't Paul Simon once say pretty much this same thing in a hit song???

 

You remember?! "They give us those nice bright colors..They give us the greens of summers..Makes you think all the world's a sunny day."

 

(...and btw, speakin' o' which...If YOU took all the girls I KNEW when I was single and brought 'em all together for one night...well, I'm pretty sure the talk would turn MIGHTY nasty once MY name was mentioned in THAT crowd!!!) ;)

 

LOL

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You remember?! "They give us those nice bright colors..They give us the greens of summers..Makes you think all the world's a sunny day."

 

 

The song was about Kodachrome.... but nothing is going to change my opinion about technicolor, I just don't care for it, sorry. Its along the same vein with me as 48 fps, 3D, etc., etc.

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The song was about Kodachrome.... but nothing is going to change my opinion about technicolor, I just don't care for it, sorry. Its along the same vein with me as 48 fps, 3D, etc., etc.

 

 

Yep, I knew Simon's song was about Kodachrome of course, Joe. And, I wasn't attempting to change anyone's mind regarding enjoying the vividness of classic Technicolor, either.

 

My point in posting that was more in the vein of how I believe Paul Simon meant his song to be interpreted...in the vein of sardonically commenting upon how an appreciation of Kodachrome, vis-a-vis Technicolor in THIS case, is an example of the human tendency toward romanticized memories and images, and in general far less so for realism. 

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Today, most films look like they were shot in the dark. Directors want to go for natural lighting. As far as make up, the women today as we all know prefer light shades and not the deep reds our mothers or grandmothers wore. Color seems to becoming back with the use of 3D since more light is required so this may be a good thing.

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Darg, In spite of the popularity among many photographers that Kodachrome enjoyed, I always preferred Ektachrome.  I found it a bit more versitile, with warmer color tones.  But that's way beside the point.

 

I really don't know what Joe has against Technicolor, unless it IS the fact the images suffer a loss of "reality" in the proccess.  But, we're talking MOVIES here, and if you were looking for "reality" in movies like GONE WITH THE WIND or THE WIZARD OF OZ, then you're gonna wind up disappointed regardless of the color proccess.  Why even bother, in those cases?

 

Anyway, why even blame Technicolor for the "clean" duds worn by the Merry Men in a movie?  OR the "unrealistic" look of the whole thing?  Much more than the color film proccess is responsible for that.  Blame instead the director, set designer, costume designer and the producer who signs off on all of that.  Who's to say that, after viewing the daily "rushes", some s c h m u c k with a cigar poked in his mouth didn't insist to "Make it BRIGHTER!" or "Clean those guys up!"?  Or complain that the whole thing didn't look "good" enough?  "Make it MORE colorful.  People LIKE that!"

 

Sepiatone

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Sepia, my opinion regarding Technicolor and the "unrealistic" tones and hues which this process brings to the screen is and always pretty much has been that I don't find anything objectionable about it when it comes to the more "fanciful" stories in film such as Adventure/Legend(example: "The Adventures of Robin Hood"), and/or Musicals (example: "Singin' in the Rain"), and/or "Outdoor Adventure/Westerns(most of this genre containing archetypes), because these sorts of stories almost by demand contain larger-than-life and less than realistically drawn characters, and thus filming these sorts of stories in vivid Technicolor in my view often enhances the "make-believe" aspect to these tales for me, and makes them even more enjoyable to watch.

 

I suppose, in a matter of speaking this format calls attention to the fact that these sorts of movies are in many if not most instances to be enjoyed primarily as lighter fare entertainment and less so for any profound comments about "real life".

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Today, most films look like they were shot in the dark.

 

Oy and not noirs, either!

I gave Harry Potter a try and just could not get into it because it was so dark. Now I don't mind contrast, or shadowy, if it's composed artistically. But sets on modern films are just "lots of stuff" piled high with too much teeny detail to focus on ANYthing. Much like the ending "warehouse" scene seen last night in CITIZEN KANE-I desperately searched for Kane's hourglass but there was too much detail to see anything.

In noirs, the backrounds are sparse, making large shapes and patterns in shadow-like venetian blinds on a wall, not distracting from the picture. In other words, good composition for the medium.

 

The Teek family watched SINGIN' IN THE RAIN last night and I noticed all the shadows the actors cast, they must have used racks of lighting. The colors of the back rounds (typically lighter hues) receded so the (colors of) costumes just jumped out at you. The costume colors were vivid, even when neutral, like Kelly's brown sweater in Moses Supposes.

 

The lighting, the colors struck me exactly the same way they do when I see a stage play. I loved it. I kept saying to MrTeek, "How can you NOT LOVE the way that looks?

 

He said, "It's the same for me as watching fireworks (he's red/green colorblind) it's just bright, I don't see the colors harmonizing as you say, I just see lots of light and no shadows".

This, of course makes the subjects far less 3 dimensional for him. When SITR was over, we caught the last 20 minutes of KANE on TCM. Even parts where the faces were in complete shadow, he commented, "Now THAT looks real."

 

So folks, beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Most of us "see" Technicolor and enjoy it while some just don't.

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Of course KANE was a completely different story than RAIN.  Can't imagine KANE having the same impact if it were shot in Technicolor, or the same with RAIN if filmed as a noir.  I think Darg's response to my post was pretty much what I had already said.  Why expect "realism" when shooting a fanciful story?  But then again, why would you wish to make it look cartoonish?  In my opinion, Technicolor doesn't actually do that, but it seems different people see different things.  And still, some people just don't GET it.

 

There's a story I told, I think, about a guy at work who said something I still laugh at today.  It was back in the '70's, and CHRISTOPHER REEVE'S "Superman" was the big movie hit that year.  A bunch of us were sitting around "passing one" and talking about our favorite scenes in the movie.  One guy piped up and complained, " I liked it up to the scene where Superman flies around the planet at super speed and gets the Earth to spin in the opposite direction.  Then everything moves in reverse and time goes backwards.  At that point, it lost ALL SENSE OF REALITY to me".

:o  :o  :o

Someone else asked, "You mean, up to that point, everything seemed PLAUSABLE to you?"

 

Anyway, I still say Technicolor wasn't the problem.  How it was applied is the issue.

 

Sepiatone

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 Most of us "see" Technicolor and enjoy it while some just don't.

I don't think that is a valid statement, I would say some of us enjoy it some of us don't, and I would agree with Dargo,

that  "I don't find anything objectionable about it when it comes to the more "fanciful" stories in film (here I'd insert The Wizard of OZ rather than Action/Legend), and/or Musicals (example: "Singin' in the Rain")"

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Today, most films look like they were shot in the dark.

 

Oy and not noirs, either!

I gave Harry Potter a try and just could not get into it because it was so dark. Now I don't mind contrast, or shadowy, if it's composed artistically. But sets on modern films are just "lots of stuff" piled high with too much teeny detail to focus on ANYthing. Much like the ending "warehouse" scene seen last night in CITIZEN KANE-I desperately searched for Kane's hourglass but there was too much detail to see anything.

In noirs, the backrounds are sparse, making large shapes and patterns in shadow-like venetian blinds on a wall, not distracting from the picture. In other words, good composition for the medium.

 

The Teek family watched SINGIN' IN THE RAIN last night and I noticed all the shadows the actors cast, they must have used racks of lighting. The colors of the back rounds (typically lighter hues) receded so the (colors of) costumes just jumped out at you. The costume colors were vivid, even when neutral, like Kelly's brown sweater in Moses Supposes.

 

The lighting, the colors struck me exactly the same way they do when I see a stage play. I loved it. I kept saying to MrTeek, "How can you NOT LOVE the way that looks?

 

He said, "It's the same for me as watching fireworks (he's red/green colorblind) it's just bright, I don't see the colors harmonizing as you say, I just see lots of light and no shadows".

This, of course makes the subjects far less 3 dimensional for him. When SITR was over, we caught the last 20 minutes of KANE on TCM. Even parts where the faces were in complete shadow, he commented, "Now THAT looks real."

 

So folks, beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Most of us "see" Technicolor and enjoy it while some just don't.

In noirs, the backrounds are sparse, making large shapes and patterns in shadow-like venetian blinds on a wall, not distracting from the picture.

 

Hoo boy. I think that is one of my favorite effects in all of moviedom.

 

Along with (I know, not an effect) having a movie start and it's a Radio picture, followed by RKO/Radio pictures, and the opening shot is either New York or Los Angeles, and not an icky costume drama or a color picture or a musical other than Wizard of Oz and so on and so forth.

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:D I love color.  My kitchen appliances and accessories are all red, my bathroom all in blue and my living/bedroom quarters are brown, burgundy, pale yellow and black.

 

I mentioned before that Warnercolor films, especially the Westerns, blow me away with the vivid colors you see on screen even though the more muted Columbia movies are more realistic.  I can appreciate each for different reasons.  I don't know the differences between the various color systems; the large studios seem to have had their own and later ones-which you would expect to be better-were far inferior as the faded and discolored films made with them show. 

 

I do prefer outdoor films in color but understand the mystique that black & white gives to mystery or noir films.  I saw a colorized version of The Postman Always Rings Twice with Lana Turner in coral turban, top and shorts after I'd read why she was in white during all but one scene. While I enjoyed the color it did make it almost a different movie.  I think Technicolor, while beautiful, would not have served this movie well.  

 

All in all, I agree with the thread's title.

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I love Technicolor. As a still photographer, Kodachrome was my favorite. Kodacolor and Ectachrome are all right, but don't look as good as real life. Technicolor and Kodachrome look better than real life. There were at least a few films made on Kodachrome. Also, we must remember that for many years, Natalie Kalmus dictated the use of Technicolor, so directors didn't have control over what the colors looked like.

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Anyone who does not like Technicolor is not all there.

 

How kind of you.

 

 

Most of us "see" Technicolor and enjoy it while some just don't.

I don't think that is a valid statement, I would say some of us enjoy it some of us don't, and I would agree with Dargo,

that  "I don't find anything objectionable about it when it comes to the more "fanciful" stories in film and/or Musicals"

 

That's you two. YOU'RE basing your enjoyment of color on subject matter.

I'm speaking about the technique itself including the all important frame composition.

 

Did anyone read the fact that MrTiki is red/green colorblind? I think that affects his ability to discern back rounds from subjects when the tones are close and there are no shadows due to bright lighting. 

I was explaining that what HE sees is comparable to what WE see in the warehouse scene in KANE - just a jumble of shapes.

 

Maybe because I'm an artist by profession, I understand how the eye perceives color, shape and contrast. I'm talking about Technicolor itself, not subject matter or genre.

 

Not all people discern color the same, although the majority sees basic colors in a similar way. 

I found this out when taking on apprentices, "What? You don't SEE your blend needs more raw umber to cool it down?"  

 

So maybe insisting on a "Technicolor Supervisor" on films was the best assurance of success. Colorists know what the average person perceives and how to make it work correctly.

This is what makes Monet & A. Wyeth such great artists-not the subject matter, but the composition of frame, color and tone.

 

That said, while I'm a "colorist" by profession, you'll find 80% of pictures hung in my home are B&W photography!  :rolleyes: 

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