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Mr. POLLACK. For your information, there are 458 film slips in those 612 minutes.
Senator LEAHY. Like everybody else in the audience, I was sitting here trying to recognize as many of those as I can.
Mr. Silverstein, I saw a great scene from “Cat Ballou.” The tape had scenes from most of the films made by each of you.
Mr. POLLACK. I was going to say, just as you are talking about it, it is impossible for me to watch that collection of images without a flood of associations of both my own and this country's past. I think the operative word in the title is "Precious,” because these films are a part of our cultural history and, like all accurate representations of who and what we were, I think they deserve preservation in their authentic form. It is like a building or a photograph or a document, because they help us locate in time where we were and they give us a sense of the geography of our lives.
Film history is like any other history, and I do not think any history is of any greater value than authentic history, history as it
We need an accurate understanding of the past in order to point us accurately towards the future.
We have been accused here often in taking the stand against colorization that we are for some kind of censorship. That is, of course, not true at all. None of us are for censorship of any kind.
We have been accused of denying the public the right to see variations of our work by the people who do this colorization. It would be perfectly all right for any of us to have someone make a new version of any of our films, a musical made of "Tootsie," or a comedy based on "Out of Africa," but I don't want them changing my version of that film.
I do not argue the relative merits of black and white versus color because that is very difficult; I think our premises are clearer than that. The first really is just to plead for the respect that any cultural heritage deserves, and the second is terribly simple, and that is that it is morally unacceptable to alter the product of a person's creative life without that person's permission.
You have seen a demonstration of the new technology that is quite good and, like all technologies, is going to get better and better. But the fundamental issue is not how good it is. That has nothing to do with the argument. It is not whether color is ipso facto better than black and white, but that it is not in any sense the same as black and white; that it represents a creative choice and that the whole art of directing a motion picture is based entirely on a series of choices and, therefore, the relative work of a director is taken from the sum of his or her choices, and to take away that from the director is essentially to rob him or her of who and what they are.
From the very moment of first choosing which picture you are going to make, the process begins, through the choice of writer or writers, and with the writer the choice of content in each scene, the choice of who will play the roles, who is going to photograph the film, who is going to design the sets, in what city it is going to be shot, will it be wide screen or will it be flat, what will the actors wear and who is going to design the clothes, who is going to edit the exposed film when shooting is finished.
What shall the style be? Shall it be hard and gritty or very lyrical? Will it be full of movement or in short, staccato bursts? Where will the actors move? How long should they pause between the moments? Should we see them from the front or should we see them from the back? Should it be in closeup or in long shot? Should it be brightly lit or very sketchy, hard to see? Should he wear a watch or suspenders, maybe fiddle with a rubber band, maybe she chews gum. It all makes a difference.
Should we play the scene inside the room or out walking by the river, or maybe in a car? Let's make it a bright sunny day, or let's make rain. How many extras? Should it be lonely, just a few extras standing around, or should it be hard to see and hear them, maybe see them only in snatches, almost impressionistic? Should we see her fall down or only hear the sound and photograph something else? Should we put the titles over black or over the first scene? Should this scene begin in a close shot or in a long master shot? Perhaps we should cut the next scene completely. Maybe the fourth scene should be the third scene. What happens if we take out the dialog and just play music? Who is going to write the music? Should it start at the beginning of the scene or should it start as I pick up the pencil here? What will be its texture? A single instrument with no rhythm, or a full orchestra playing something grand? Or is it more effective to have no music, maybe no sound at all, just breathing, even though we are outside and see traffic and children playing?
The print is too dark or too light or too yellow or too blue. Blue is colder, makes a different mood. Yellow makes them look happy, makes them look better.
You see, each choice changes in some way the signals that we send to the audience. Each area requires a fluency in one of the vocabularies we use to communicate. It is a tool out of which one sculpts the finished film. It is made of nothing else, absolutely nothing, only the sum of these choices.
There is a difference between a film in black and white and a film in color. Black-and-white photography, as Mr. Silverstein said, is not color photography with the color removed. It is not better or worse in general, but it is different. It is a choice.
A filmmaker has nothing other than the quality and integrity of his or her work, and that quality or integrity are made of absolutely nothing but this series of choices, and we are here to insist on the protection really of those choices, even to say that a director who does not make those choices is not directing.
What you see and hear when you watch a film is what the film is. If you change what you see, you are altering what the film is.
It is ironic that in the United States, where the motion picture was created, we who make the films have much less protection in our country than we have in France or Italy or Japan.
So the fact that I happen to prefer black and white for "The Maltese Falcon,” that I am convinced that it is art and its value is greater in its authentic form, is not finally the deciding factor. The fact that I agree with Vincent Canby, who wrote in the New York Times, Sunday, April 19:
Through the auspices of Color Systems Technology, "The Maltese Falcon,” is now mostly grayish-blue. Mary Astor's bathrobe comes out a baby grayish-blue, Humphrey Bogart's pin-stripe suit is a dark grayish blue, and his fedora a changeable light grayish-blue (though it frequently turns khaki color, even while on his head). The old black magic of the original barely shines through this singularly inept "color conversion.” All the actors appear to be wearing the same orangey Max Factor pancake make-up, creating heavenly halos around their faces in long shots. Everyone has the same, similarly tinted beige lips and the same brown-button eyes. One of the curious side effects of this technological advance: every man in the cast seems to have dyed his hair in the same vat of raisin-colored rinse. Opponents of socalled "colorization” couldn't ask for a better argument than this.
Perhaps these concerns, I am told, must be brushed aside in the interest of what we are told is progress. And even the fact that I am heartbroken at the prospect of seeing Ingrid Bergman say that last goodbye to Bogie as she walks away through all that fog in "Casablanca" in some kind of makeup, tacked on color, is perhaps beside the point. But the prospect of someone taking away from me who or what I am and what I do, which is to make the series of choices that finally become a motion picture, is not beside the point. It is the point, and we have to do everything we can to see that does not happen.
[The statement of Mr. Pollack follows:
I'D LIKE TO TAKE A FEW MOMENTS TO SHOW YOU A SHORT
PIECE OF FILM PREPARED TO COMMEMORATE THE 50TH ANNIVERSARY OF
THE DIRECTORS' GUILD OF AMERICA.
SOME OF IT IS IN BLACK AND
WHITE AND SOME OF IT IS IN COLOR, BUT FOR THE MOMENT THAT IS
IT LASTS ONLY SIX AND ONE-HALF MINUTES AND I
PROMISE IT WON'T BORE YOU.
IT'S A SMALL PART OF THE LIBRARY
OF AMERICAN FILM ART AND IT IS ENTITLED, "PRECIOUS IMAGES".
(FILM RUNS HERE)
IT'S IMPOSSIBLE FOR ME TO WATCH THAT COLLECTION OF
PRECIOUS IMAGES WITHOUT A FLOOD OF ASSOCIATIONS OF MY OWN,
AND THIS COUNTRY'S, PAST.
THE OPERATIVE WORD IN THE TITLE IS
THESE FILMS ARE A PART OF OUR CULTURAL HISTORY.
LIKE ALL ACCURATE REPRESENTATIONS OF WHO AND WHAT WE WERE,
THEY DESERVE PRESERVATION IN THEIR AUTHENTIC FORM.
BUILDING, A PHOTOGRAPH, OR A DOCUMENT IT HELPS LOCATE US IN
TIME AND GIVES US A SENSE OF THE GEOGRAPHY OF OUR LIVES.
NEED AN ACCURATE UNDERSTANDING OF THE PAST IN ORDER TO POINT
US ACCURATELY TOWARD THE FUTURE.
I DON'T WANT TO ARGUE HERE THE RELATIVE MERITS OF BLACK AND WHITE VS. COLOR, I BELIEVE OUR PREMISES HERE ARE
TECHNOLOGY THAT, LIKE ALL TECHNOLOGIES, WILL GET BETTER AND
BETTER WITH USE.
THE FUNDAMENTAL ISSUE AT HAND IS NOT HOW
GOOD IT IS.
.NOT WHETHER OR NOT COLOR IS IPSO-FACTO BETTER
THAN BLACK AND WHITE, BUT THAT IT IS NOT IN ANY SENSE THE
SAME AS BLACK AND WHITE.
THAT IT REPRESENTS A CREATIVE
THAT THE WHOLE ART OF DIRECTING IS BASED ENTIRELY ON
DIRECTOR IS TAKEN FROM THE SUM OF HIS OR HER CHOICES, AND TO
TAKE THAT AWAY FROM THE DIRECTOR IS ESSENTIALLY TO ROB HIM OR
HER OF WHO AND WHAT THEY ARE.
FROM THE MOMENT OF CHOOSING TO DO A SPECIFIC FILM
THE PROCESS BEGINS.
THROUGH THE CHOICE OF WRITER OR WRITERS,
AND WITH THE WRITER THE CHOICE OF CONTENT IN EACH SCENE, THE
CHOICE OF WHO WILL PLAY THE ROLES, WHO WILL PHOTOGRAPH THE
FILM, DESIGN THE SETS, IN WHAT CITY WILL IT BE SHOT, SHALL IT
BE WIDE SCREEN OR FLAT, WHAT WILL THE ACTORS WEAR, WHO WILL
DESIGN THE CLOTHES, WHO WILL EDIT THE EXPOSED FILM WHEN
SHOOTING IS FINISHED, WHAT SHALL THE STYLE BE?.
GRITTY OR LYRICAL?.
. FULL OF MOVEMENT OR IN SHORT, STACCATO
BURSTS?. . . WHERE WILL THE ACTORS MOVE, HOW LONG SHOULD THEY
PAUSE BETWEEN MOMENTS, SHOULD WE SEE THEM FROM THE FRONT OR
THE BACK, IN CLOSE UP OR LONG SHOT, BRIGHTLY LIT OR SKETCHY?
. PERHAPS HE
FIDDLES WITH RUBBER BANDS, MAYBE SHE CHEWS GUM.
IT ALL MAKES