Technicolor is a transcendent name in the history of cinema. The name, Technicolor, derived by Dr. Herbert Kalmus and his early partners, from conjoining “technique” and “color” is something so embedded into global vernacular as to be, at the same time, a noun, an adjective and an adverb. The experience of Technicolor films is universally shared because of the power of cinema and the fundamental emotional connection audiences make to color – especially when employed by so many of the world’s greatest filmmakers. And Technicolor is globally celebrated as witnessed by so many wonderfully related events around the world to date in 2015 – and continuing for the rest of the year. This summer is no exception, with wonderful tributes taking place in New York and Toronto. What began at the George Eastman House, in Rochester, continues to play out in this “summer of Technicolor.”
The many shades of Technicolor continue on exhibit in New York City at the Museum of Modern Art, and in Toronto, Ontario at the Bell Lightbox Theatre by way of two wonderful series, programmed by their respective staffs, letting audiences in those lucky cities experience exquisite representations of many of the best films from Technicolor’s century-long history. The Toronto series, around 30 films over the course of 6 weeks, was programmed by Jesse Wente and his team in association with the Toronto International Film Festival, while the MOMA series was put together by Joshua Siegel, and his curatorial team, in partnership with GEH.
The MOMA series is particularly significant as all of the 70 or so films (including animated shorts and cartoons) are being shown on celluloid, accessed from MOMA’s collection, a few Hollywood studio archives, and principally from the George Eastman House who was very much a partner to MOMA on the effort. The MOMA Film Department has brought together an incredible array of animated films produced in Technicolor, including many of the Walt Disney classics, but also a remarkable group of Technicolor animated cartoons, featuring two studios: Disney and Warner Bros., bringing together early Mickey Mouse and Bugs Bunny animated cartoons.
Animation was the first incarnation of Technicolor 3-strip IB dye-transfer. Walt Disney embraced the dye-transfer process and worked closely with Technicolor engineers to build the special early 3-strip cameras used to photograph the animated cells creating by Disney’s teams in Burbank.
The Bell Lightbox series is being projected from both celluloid prints and recent restoration DCPs, including a series of Michael Powell-Emeric Pressburger British Technicolor films from the post-war period, including The Red Shoes, and The Tales of Hoffmann, showings that were introduced by Technicolor’s Bob Hoffman.
The Red Shoes
The summer Technicolor celebration also resides more globally, in the virtual domain, as represented by recent blog-postings to be found here: at filmmaker Jerry Beck’s “Animation Scoop” blog on IndieWire:
…and here, at Alison Nastasi’s Flavorwire blog:
And while the GEH exhibition of their Technicolor collection has closed, and their traveling screening series winds down, the curators at GEH have elected to continue to display a remarkable assemblage of around 1850 bottles of dyes the company used from the late 1920s and well into the late 1970s as part of the remarkably nuanced palette of Technicolor. Together with the screening programs, and further Technicolor celebrations to be conducted over the balance of the year, the image of those bottles of dyes is a great reminder of the many shades of Technicolor to be experienced by cinema-lovers around the world.