silent movies and colour!

A frame from Ben-Hur (1925) using Technicolor Process 2

Toronto.  I usually think black and white when I think silent movies but it was not so! The movie, “Ben-Hur” released in 1925 was the most expensive silent movie ever made. Much of it was shot “on location” in Rome and key segments used colour – yes colour! The colour was Technicolor Process 2 using red and green so the ‘colour’ looks weird to a modern eye used to tri-colour processes and auto white balance.

It wasn’t until the late 1950s (as I recall) that colour films replaced most of the black white films in the movie houses. By then, a three colour process made colours closer to those in nature, perhaps more saturated.

Some of the movies made in the 1950s and 60s seem to have faded badly today – especially yellows. They also seem to have had difficulty with white balance (at least on TV). For example, a grey suit or wall shifts before your eyes momentarily gaining a blue or brownish cast.

We live in exciting times with this digital perfection. Looking back to the early years of the last century, colour films, sold films were simply amazing for the time.

This entry was posted in history and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.