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Please understand one thing: I am not saying that our films are untouchable and that nothing can be altered. Of course, everything can be altered. But the only person who should have the right to alter or supervise such alterations are the creative authors of the work. Nobody else. Otherwise, we are leaving the civilized world and entering the jungle. For example, if we decide that colorization without the approval of the creative authors is permissible because colorization changes neither the story, nor the characters, nor the original negatives of the film, leads immediately to interesting ideas, one of which Woody came up with. Why not jazz up a little bit the music in "Gone With The Wind"? The kids today are into heavy metal so let's replace the soundtrack with electric guitars and drums, and we will change neither the story nor the characters nor the original negatives.
And where will you go from there? Because the technological progress will not stop. Who knows what will be possible with the visual and audio elements of the film tomorrow? My deep conviction is that if the creative authors of the films are not given the right to approve or disapprove any-and I emphasize the word any-alteration of his or her work, American film, this powerful part of American cultural heritage, will in the future be constantly humiliated and finally mutilated beyond recognition.
Senator LEAHY. Mr. Forman, you told me earlier that three films you made in Czechoslovakia were black and white. Is that correct? Mr. FORMAN. That is correct.
[The prepared statement of Mr. Forman follows:]
MR. CHAIRMAN, MEMBERS OF THE COMMITTEE.
FOR THE FIRST 37 YEARS OF MY LIFE I LIVED IN EUROPE AND THUS FEEL QUALIFIED ΤΟ TESTIFY THAT THE ONLY UNITED STATES AMBASSADOR WHO IS WELCOMED WITH OPEN ARMS AND ADMIRATION BY EVERYBODY, EVERYWHERE IN THE WORLD, IS AMERICAN FILM. THE IMPACT AMERICAN FILM HAS ON HUNDREDS AND MILLIONS OF PEOPLE ON THE PLANET EARTH IS ASTONISHING AND WE ALL CAN BE VERY PROUD OF IT. YOU SHOW PEOPLE THE HOLLYWOOD GLAMOUR AND THEY ADMIRE THE GLAMOUR. YOU GIVE THEM FILMS CRITICAL
OF OUR SOCIETY, FILMS SHOWING OUR DARK SIDE AND THEY ADMIRE FREEDOM WE HAVE IN THIS COUNTRY TO TALK ABOUT OURSELVES. WHICHEVER END OF THE STICK YOU GRAB, AMERICAN FILM IS ALWAYS THE WINNER.
DIRECTORS GUILD OF AMERICA, 7950 SUNSET BLVD., LOS ANGELES, CA 90046
SO YOU CAN IMAGINE HOW SADDENED I WAS WHEN, AFTER COMING TO THE UNITED STATES, I LEARNED THAT THIS WONDERFUL AND PROUD AMBASSADOR OF OUR CULTURE, WHEN THEY RETURN HOME, TO THE HOMES OF AMERICANS ON TELEVISION, THEY ARE TREATED BY THE MONEY PEOPLE NOT EVEN AS SECOND CLASS CITIZENS, BUT AS SAUSAGES ON THE BUTCHER BLOCK.
THEY ARE CUT, COLORIZED, PANNED AND SCANNED, SPED UP AND ALTERED. AND I LEARNED IT THE HARD WAY. IN 1979 I MADE A MUSICAL FILM FOR UNITED ARTISTS WHICH WAS EVENTUALLY SOLD TO 115 SYNDICATED AMERICAN MUSICAL NUMBERS CUT OUT AND
TV STATIONS WITH 9 ENTIRE
OTHER CUTS AND ALTERATIONS THROUGHOUT THE WHOLE FILM. BUT MY NAME WAS STILL ON IT. THE FILM WAS STILL SOLD AS THE ORIGINAL (AS A MILOS FORMAN FILM). WHEN I ASKED MY LAWYERS IF I HAD ANY PROTECTION AGAINST SUCH MUTILATION OF MY WORK, I WAS TOLD "IF YOU ARE NOT PROTECTED BY YOUR INDIVIDUAL CONTRACT, THERE IS NOTHING IN AMERICAN LAW WHICH PROTECTS THE RIGHTS OF CREATIVE AUTHORS OF MOTION PICTURES. WHOEVER BUYS THEM CAN DO WITH THEM ANYTHING THEY WISH. AND, THEY CAN SELL THEM AFTER THE ALTERATIONS AS THE ORIGINAL WORK.
IT WAS SHOCKING FOR ME TO DISCOVER THAT THE CREATIVE AUTHORS OF THIS GENUINELY AMERICAN ART FORM ARE MUCH BETTER PROTECTED IN EVERY OTHER COUNTRY OF THE CIVILIZED WORLD, THAN THEY ARE IN THE UNITED STATES.
FOR EXAMPLE, IF I COMMISSION A PAINTING, IT DOESN'T MATTER IF IT IS A PICASSO OR FROM AN UNKNOWN, IT IS MINE. I PAID FOR IT. I OWN IT AND NOBODY CAN PROTECT IT AGAINST ME DOING ANYTHING I WISH. I CAN CHANGE COLORS, I CAN ALTER THE LINES, I CAN EVEN CUT A FEW INCHES HERE AND THERE TO ACCOMMODATE THE SPACE OF MY WALL. SHOULD
I STILL BE ABLE TO SELL IT AS A PICASSO OR SOMEBODY ELSE'S ORIGINAL? I BELIEVE NOT.
I REALIZE THAT I AM HIRED AND PAID BY THE MONEY PEOPLE TO MAKE SO WAS MICHELANGELO WHOM MEDICI HIRED AND PAID TO
A FILM. BUT
PAINT THE SISTINE CHAPEL. STILL NONE OF THE MEDICIS WENT INSIDE DURING THE NIGHT AND CHANGED COLORS OR REPAINTED OR OTHERWISE ALTERED MICHELANGELO'S WORK. BUT OF COURSE, THOSE WERE THE MIDDLE AGES.
OR WERE THEY?
PLEASE UNDERSTAND ONE THING: I AM NOT SAYING THAT OUR FILMS ARE THAT NOTHING CAN BE ALTERED. OF COURSE,
CAN BE ALTERED. BUT THE ONLY PERSON WHO SHOULD HAVE THE RIGHT TO ALTER, OR SUPERVISE SUCH ALTERATIONS ARE THE CREATIVE AUTHORS OF THE WORK. NOBODY ELSE! OTHERWISE WE ARE LEAVING THE CIVILIZED WORLD AND ENTERING THE JUNGLE. FOR EXAMPLE IF WE DECIDE THAT COLORIZATION WITHOUT THE APPROVAL OF THE CREATIVE AUTHORS IS PERMISSIBLE BECAUSE COLORIZATION CHANGES NEITHER THE STORY, NOR THE CHARACTERS, NOR THE ORIGINAL NEGATIVES OF THE FILM, LEADS IMMEDIATELY ΤΟ INTERESTING IDEAS: WHY NOT JAZZ UP A LITTLE THE MUSIC IN "GONE WITH THE WIND"? KIDS ARE TODAY HEAVILY IN HEAVY METAL So LETS
REPLACE THE SOUNDTRACK
ELECTRIC GUITARS AND NEITHER THE STORY NOR THE
CHARACTERS OR THE ORIGINAL NEGATIVES.
AND WHERE IT WILL GO FROM THERE? TECHNOLOGICAL PROGRESS WILL NOT WHO KNOWS WHAT WILL BE POSSIBLE WITH THE VISUAL AND AUDIO ELEMENTS OF THE FILM TOMORROW? MY DEEP CONVICTION IS THAT IF THE CREATIVE AUTHORS OF THE FILMS ARE NOT GIVEN THE RIGHT TO APPROVE OR DISAPPROVE ANY, AND I EMPHASIZE THE WORD ANY ALTERATION OF HIS OR HER WORK, AMERICAN FILM, THIS POWERFUL PART OF AMERICAN CULTURAL HERITAGE WILL IN THE FUTURE BE CONSTANTLY HUMILIATED AND FINALLY
MUTILATED BEYOND RECOGNITION.
Senator LEAHY. Ms. Rogers, if you will just allow me a personal observation, you have brought an enormous amount of pleasure to Americans over the years. You were in one of the very first movies I saw.
Ms. ROGERS. Thank you very much, Senator.
Senator LEAHY. I am delighted, to welcome you here.
STATEMENT OF GINGER ROGERS
Ms. ROGERS. Senator Leahy, it is a great pleasure to be here and to share my feelings on this very troubling issue, and I also speak for the Screen Actors Guild National Board of Directors, which voted unanimously to oppose the computer coloring of black-andwhite films.
I would like to tell you how it feels, as an actor, to see yourself painted up like a birthday cake on the television screen. It feels terrible. It hurts. It is embarrassing and insulting. It is a violation of all the care and trust that goes into a work of cinematic art.
In the movies, your face is truly your fortune. It is the focus of the art form. So, as actors, we are very concerned about our appearance on the screen. The studios spent months and even years grooming us and carefully developing an image that looked just right on black and white film. We trusted the experts-the directors, the cameramen, the makeup artists and costumers-to make us look our very best.
Our appearance and expressions are the tools we use to create a character on the screen. It is a subtle and sensitive art that is completely obliterated by computer coloring.
The camera captures a certain magic on an actor's face, a sparkle in the eye, the gleam of a tear, the slightest smile or frown on the lips. These are the nuances that go into a great performance. And these are the delicacies that are sacrificed under a smear of pink and orange frosting.
Some people think that this icing on the cake actually improves our appearance. Well, I've seen the new makeup and costumes that they have painted on me against my will, and I can tell you it is no improvement. I never would have stepped near a camera looking like that. No director, make-up man nor costumer would have allowed it.
I was outraged when I saw the computer-colored version of "42nd Street," in which I had a supporting role. It looked as if we had all been spray painted or doused with dye. Those thrilling musical numbers suddenly looked like cheap Saturday morning cartoons. All of the detail, all of the pizazz was lost under the new paint job. How can you accurately color a Busby Berkeley chorus line of 100 beautiful girls with their arms, legs, and costumes twirling? The answer is you can't, and you shouldn't try. All those lovely girls in "42nd Street" suddenly had the same orange face, the same orange legs, the same green costume and the same blank look. Each individual personality was actually wiped out in one long, sloppy brush stroke. I'm glad that Busby Berkeley isn't here to see what they are doing to his art. It would break his heart to see those brilliant dance numbers done-in by flat, lifeless computer color.