The fascinating history of the transition from black and white to color movies.


CLARK GABLE AND VIVIEN LEIGH IN GONE WITH THE WIND (1939, USA, DIR. VICTOR FLEMING)

In Colour Consciousness, Natalie Kalmus wrote that the ‘inherent desire for artists to show motion in colour’ has always existed 1. From the first cave paintings, man has tried to illustrate his perception of the world and replicate his field of vision as accurately as possible, and film became the best form to fulfil it. But it recorded a colourless world, unlike human vision. Black-and-white cinematography dominated, and people got used to it. When colour technology was finally elaborated studios were reluctant to employ it, mainly because of its deficient quality and limited practicality, its huge cost in parallel to its little demand and its stylistic devaluation by artists. The reasons why transition to colour took over three decades can be divided into three main categories: technological, economic and aesthetic issues.

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