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The agreements would likely not touch the home video
market. It would seem there would always be some available forum for these films. Perhaps most important, any restrictions on the airing of these films, once created, would appear much like censorship. Even if, due to their private nature, these
agreements were not illegal, such a scheme would seem like an
unduly restrictive and paternalistic abridgment of the rights of the viewing public.
Perhaps the strongest argument made by opponents of
colorization is not for the preservation of artistic integrity,
but rather for the preservation of our cultural heritage. Films made in the black-and-white era, whether knowingly or not, capture and record the heritage and culture of a time now passed.
To present altered versions of these films, it is argued, is akin
to presenting an altered version of our history. Instead of educating the young as to the worth of these original films and
their era, they instead present a faddish and distorted view of
Ironically, most film archivists actually view colorization
as a boon to the preservation of these original films. Not only does the process not alter or deface the original work, 148 but it requires the making of a pristine black-and-white print of the
original film, and a new negative if the original was degradable nitrate film. 1 49 Thus, after the process is
performed, our cultural heritage is actually better preserved,
even if only in the archivists' vaults.
While this may be less
than perfect, it cannot be said that, before colorization, the viewing public was breaking down the archive doors to see most of
law in the intellectual property law area be twisted beyond recognition, simply to vindicate these artistic concerns. 150 If the process is to be regulated or prevented altogether, it should be by specific legislation at the national level. 151 So far, and probably with justification, Congress has not viewed colorization
a sufficiently compelling problem to address in this
Perhaps the best thing to do is leave the merits of
colorization in the hands of the viewing public.
As with all
creative works protected under copyright, it is the public alone which must judge the ultimate worth of colorized films. 153 So
far, and to the chagrin of opponents of the process, the public has shown a tremendous interest in colorization. 154 This
interest, however, may eventually prove to be fleeting in nature. 155
Already, at least one New York theatre house has responded to colorization with a marquee proclaiming "Maltese Falcon Original black-and-white version!". 156
If the public as whole does eventually become disinterested in colorized films, this in itself will effectively
may indeed be painful for a director to see colorized showings of
his films, this may be the price he has to pay until the public
Until then, the artists among us may have to FOOTNOTRS Films, New York Times, Dec. 21, 1986, Section 2, at 15, col. 3;
shares his view.
turn down the color knobs on our television sets and ride this
DAVID J. KOAS
At least on film critic has refused to use the term
"colorization", instead preferring to describe the process as the
Angeles Times, Nov. 1, 1986, Part 6, at 6, col. 4, where arts
colorize as E.B. White felt about the word personalize.
wrote that he would as
soon Simonize his grandmother as
personalize his writing.
Colorizing a film seems to me in a
league with rinsizing your clothes or ironizing your pants..."
Champlin's objection notwithstanding, this article will use
the term "colorized" to describe this new generation of color
films, in order to clearly differentiate them from legitimate,
Art Laws Don't Protect Films From Alteration, New York Times,
Dec. 11, 1986, Section A, at 34, col. 4; Through a Tinted Glass,
Darkly, New York Times, Nov. 30, 1986, Section 2, at 19, col. 1;
"Colorizing" Black and White Movies, Los Angeles Times, Nov. 29,
1986, Part 2, at 2, col. 1; "NO" Votes Win in "Color Wars", Los
Angeles Times, Nov. 26, 1986, Part 6, at 1, col. 1; The Well
Trashed Art, New York Times, Nov. 26, 1986, Section A, at 27,
col. 5; Ted Turner is Showing His True Colors, Los Angeles Times,
Nov. 19, 1986, Part 3, at 1, col. 1; Tainted, Tinted Movies, New
York Times, Nov. 16, 1986, Section 4, at 22, col. 1; War Against
Colorizing Joined by John Huston, Los Angeles Times, Nov. 14,
1986, Part 6, at 1, col. 2; John Huston Protests "Maltese Falcon"
Coloring, New York Times, Nov. 14, 1986, Section C, at 36, col.
1; Council Against Color, NEA Advisory Group Condemns Film Trend,
Washington Post, Nov. 4, 1986, Section D, at 9; Arts Council Hits
Colorizing, Los Angeles Times, Nov. 4, 1986, Part 6, at 1,
4; Council Opposes Coloring Old Films, New York Times, Nov. 4,