My first experience with a Technicolor film was the Wizard of Oz. I remember watching the movie in amazement, wondering what kind of funky business was happening on my television screen. My eyes were having a color party. It wasn’t like the films that we see today. The Wizard of Oz was one part sepia-toned black and white and another part color. But…a weird color. Vibrant but also subdued hues. It was dreamy and almost aggressively saturated.
Recently, I decided to look up some popular films using this medium from that time. First, here’s the skinny on Technicolor:
Before there was color film, all cinematography was processed in black and white. A company (Technicolor Motion Picture Corporation) decided hey, lets add color to the film process. So they developed a technique using two filters (red and green) to create color film.
a prism beam-splitter behind the camera lens exposed two consecutive frames of a single strip of black-and-white negative film simultaneously, one behind a red filter, the other behind a green filter… the special Technicolor camera used a beam-splitter that simultaneously exposed two frames of a single strip of black-and-white film, one behind a green filter and one behind a red filter.
As you can see from the pictures below, the colors are vibrant. This process involves an overwhelming amount of time, filters, dyes and a bunch of other things you really don’t need to know about unless you’re interested in working in or with film. Or, if you’re just curious, visit the Technicolor website.
There are literally tons of films that were produced in Technicolor but here are four of my favorites.
1. Wizard of Oz (1939)
2. Gone with the Wind (1939)
3. Walt Disney’s Fantasia (1940)
4. Funny Face (1957)
What was your favorite Technicolor film?