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LET US JUST SAY THAT A VERY RICH MAN HAS PURCHASED ALL THE

FILMS EVER MADE IN HOLLYWOOD.

HE CALLS TOGETHER HIS STAFF

AND SAYS, "TAKE ALL THE BLACK AND WHITE ONES AND TURN THEM

INTO COLOR USING OUR NEW COMPUTER."

THE TECHNICIANS GET

RIGHT TO WORK IMPLEMENTING THIS BECAUSE THEY ARE USED TO

FOLLOWING ORDERS.

ONE MAN AMONG THEM HOWEVER, IS PUZZLED AND

ASKS HIS EMPLOYER, "I DON'T UNDERSTAND

WHY PAINT THEM OVER

WITH COLOR?"

AND THE BOSS SAYS, "BECAUSE MORE PEOPLE WILL WATCH

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DIRECTORS GUILD OF AMERICA, 7950 SUNSET BLVD., LOS ANGELES, CA 90046

NATIONAL OFFICE TELEX NUMBER 181498

113

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BLACK AND WHITE.

HE POINTS TO "IT'S A WONDERFUL LIFE" VIEWED

BY MILLIONS EVERY CHRISTMAS ON TELEVISION.

HE POINTS TO

"YANKEE DOODLE DANDY" AND "SERGEANT YORK" AND "CITIZEN KANE"

AND "THE MALTESE FALCON" AND "ON THE WATERFRONT".

"THEY'RE GREAT FILMS", THE BOSS SAYS.

"BUT I'M

GOING TO IMPROVE THEM.

THEY'LL BE GREATER WHEN I'M

FINISHED WITH THEM."

"BUT THE DIRECTOR OF 'CITIZEN KANE' IS DEAD.

WHO'LL TELL YOU WHAT COLORS IT SHOULD BE?"

"WE HAVE MEN TO DO THAT.

IT'S TRUE

THEY'VE

NEVER DIRECTED FILMS AND KNOW NOTHING ABOUT IT, BUT

THEY SURE CAN WORK COMPUTERS AND BETWEEN YOU AND ME

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"OH, THAT'S IN THE FUTURE", THE BOSS SAYS.

"FIRST

COLOR, THEN MAYBE WE REPLACE THE SCORE OF

'GONE

WITH THE WIND' WITH ROCK.

I HAVE LOTS OF IDEAS."

PAGE THREE

NOW, YOU MIGHT GET THE IMPRESSION FROM ALL THIS THAT I AM

AGAINST COLORIZATION OF BLACK AND WHITE FILMS, BUT BELIEVE IT

OR NOT YOU'D BE WRONG.

IF A MOVIE DIRECTOR WISHES HIS FILM

TO BE COLORIZED, THEN I SAY BY ALL MEANS, LET HIM COLOR IT.

IF HE PREFERS IT TO REMAIN IN BLACK AND WHITE THEN IT IS

SINFUL TO FORCE HIM TO CHANGE IT.

IF THE DIRECTOR IS NOT

ALIVE AND HIS WORK HAS BEEN HISTORICALLY ESTABLISHED IN BLACK

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PRESUMPTION THAT THE COLORIZERS ARE DOING HIM A FAVOR AND

BETTERING HIS MOVIE IS A TRANSPARENT ATTEMPT TO JUSTIFY THE

MUTILATION OF ART FOR A FEW EXTRA DOLLARS.

THE COLORIZERS WILL TELL YOU THAT IT'S PROVEN NO ONE WANTS

BLACK AND WHITE BUT THIS IS NOT TRUE AND IF IT WERE

IF

AUDIENCES WHO HAVE GROWN UP ON MINDLESS TELEVISION WERE SO

DESENSITIZED THAT A MOVIE LIKE "IT HAPPENED ONE NIGHT" WHICH

HAS BEEN DELIGHTING PEOPLE IN BLACK AND WHITE FOR GENERATIONS

NOW HAD TO BE VIEWED IN COLOR TO BE APPRECIATED THEN THE TASK

WOULD BE TO CULTIVATE THE AUDIENCE BACK TO SOME LEVEL OF

MATURITY RATHER THAN TO DOCTOR THE FILM ARTIFICIALLY TO KEEP

UP WITH LOWERED TASTES.

NOT ONLY DO THE COLORIZERS HAVE

CONTEMPT FOR THE AMERICAN PUBLIC BUT ALSO FOR THE ARTIST.

A

LARGE NUMBER OF AMERICAN MOVIES ARE CLASSICS BOTH AT HOME AND

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PAGE FOUR

MOTION PICTURES

THAT ARE CONSIDERED GENUINE WORKS OF ART

COMPARABLE TO FINE LITERATURE, PAINTING AND MUSIC.

BUT THE

COLORIZERS HAVE NO REGARD FOR THE MEN WHO MADE THESE MOVIES

AND WHEN A GREAT AMERICAN DIRECTOR LIKE JOHN HUSTON SAYS HE

DOESN'T WANT HIS SUPERB MYSTERY "THE MALTESE FALCON" MADE

INTO A COLOR MOVIE BECAUSE THAT MAKES THIS HARD BOILED BOGART

FILM SILLY LOOKING:

THEY COULDN'T CARE LESS WHAT HUSTON

WANTS.

THE COLORIZERS ALSO TELL US THAT A VIEWER CAN SIMPLY

TURN OFF THE COLOR AND SEE THE FILM IN BLACK AND WHITE.

THE

FACT THAT THE MAN WHO MADE THE FILM WANTS NO ONE AT ALL TO

SEE IT IN COLOR MEANS NOTHING TO THEM.

FINALLY, THEY SAY WE

LIVE IN A DEMOCRACY AND THE PUBLIC WANTS THESE FILMS IN COLOR

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ALTERATIONS TO SUIT THEIR TASTE THE WORLD WOULD HAVE NO REAL

ART.

NOTHING WOULD BE SAFE.

PICASSO WOULD HAVE BEEN CHANGED

YEARS AGO AND JAMES JOYCE AND STRAVINSKY AND THE LIST GOES

ON.

THE EXAMPLE OF JOHN HUSTON, INCIDENTALLY, IS PARTICULARLY

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MEANINGFUL TO ME BECAUSE THE AESTHETIC DIFFERENCES BETWEEN

COLOR AND BLACK AND WHITE IS A SUBJECT THAT HITS HOME IN MY

OWN WORK.

IN AN ERA OF ALMOST EXCLUSIVELY COLOR FILMS, I

HAVE CHOSEN ON A NUMBER OF OCCASIONS, EVEN FOUGHT FOR THE

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PAGE FIVE

BLACK AND WHITE IS OFTEN SO WIDE IT ALTERS THE MEANING OF

SCENES.

IF I HAD PORTRAYED NEW YORK CITY IN COLOR RATHER

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EVOCATION OF THE CITY FROM OLD PHOTOGRAPHS AND FILMS WOULD

HAVE BEEN IMPOSSIBLE TO ACHIEVE IN GLORIOUS TECHNICOLOR.

WHEREAS IF I HAD FILMED "ANNIE HALL" IN BLACK AND WHITE, ALL

THE SCENES THAT NOW COME OFF AMUSINGLY WOULD TAKE A 'GIANT

STEP TOWARD GRIM SERIOUSNESS BY MERE VIRTUE OF THEM SUDDENLY

BEING GRITTIER AND LESS CARTOONLIKE.

ONE HAS ONLY TO THINK

OF A FILM LIKE "THE BICYCLE THIEF" AND IMAGINE THE LIFE AND

DEATH SEARCH THROUGH POST-WAR ROME FOR THE PRECIOUS BICYCLE

BEING IN REDS AND YELLOWS AND BLUES RATHER THAN THE HOT

WHITES AND DIRTY BLACKS AND GREYS AND ONE SEES HOW ABSURD THE

WHOLE THING IS.

AND IT'S NOT JUST DRAMA

MUSICALS JUST

BECAUSE THEY ARE BOUNCY ARE NOT HELPED BY THE ADDITION OF

COLOR WHERE IT DOESN'T BELONG EITHER.

PART OF THE ARTISTIC

EXPERIENCE OF SEEING OLD GINGER ROGERS AND FRED ASTAIRE FILMS

IS THE PERIOD QUALITY

THE BLACK AND WHITE PHOTOGRAPHY

GIVES IT ITS ENTIRE FEEL.

WHEN ASTAIRE MADE COLOR MUSICALS

IN A LATER PERIOD THEY HAVE A TOTALLY DIFFERENT QUALITY THAT

REFLECTS BEAUTIFULLY THEIR PARTICULAR ERA.

THEY ARE NOT

BETTER OR WORSE

BUT COMPLETELY DIFFERENT AND TRUE TO

THEMSELVES.

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