Monday, March 9, 2009

Movie colorization

I just noticed that three of the DVD's I've bought because of my 30's movies marathon, She, Things to Come and My Man Godfrey, contain both a black & white and a colorized version of the movie. In other words, movie colorization is back.

What a great idea. I know - colorization has a bad reputation. But it's undeserved. These movies look great. There's nothing wrong with the quality. That is, Things to Come both looks and sounds bad, but so does the black & white version.

I don't see any good reasons not to colorize old movies, now that the technology is good enough. The last stand of the purists is that "they weren't meant to be in color", which is a stupid thing to say. Of course they were meant to be in color. They just didn't have the money. Color technology existed in the 30's, but it was expensive. Few directors would have said no if they'd had the option.

There are movies that would look worse in color. Black & white is a tool, and some directors knew how to use it. But most black & white movies are just .. colorless. To oppose all colorization is to give blind obedience to accident, (this movie got the budget, that movie didn't).

One critic of colorization is George Lucas, (yes, George Lucas, the man who changed Star Wars!), who is afraid that old comedies may be less funny in color. If so, the problem is hardly the color, is it?

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At 30 November, 2009 10:56 , Anonymous Dr.N.A.S said...

Hello Sir, It's really good ideas to see our lovely movies again in color..I'm a phd researcher and I already have made a movie colorization project one year ago, I 'll be pleased to contact with you.
Please visit my site and contact me.

At 11 January, 2010 23:37 , Blogger rglater said...


Good post. I also own SHE and appreciate the colorization because the sets were designed to be shot in color and they had access to Harryhausen.

I agree that blanket opposition to colorization is illogical. I have a much bigger problem with pan and scan broadcasts of films.

There are a few issues however, first, colorization does not look like movies shot directly to color film. Not a complete reason to oppose it but a point. Some cinematographers did beautiful work in B&W and colorization artificially softens their shots.

When colorization appeared I thought it was a great idea for updating stock footage to sue in new movies.

Would you colorize Woody Allen's Manhattan?



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