November 14, 2005

Time to colorize old movies

When Ted Turner started colorizing old movies in the late 1980s, the technology was god-awfully primitive. I remember watching a colorized version of "Bringing Up Baby," the screwball comedy with Cary Grant and Katherine Hepburn, where there only seemed to be three shades of sick-making color in the entire movie. I get queasy just recalling it.

Colorization was condemned on moral grounds and driven out of practice, but, let's face it: the upcoming generation won't watch black-and-white films. Their eyes won't focus on them. Kids these days will watch "Robin Hood" from 1938 because it's in color, but they won't black and white movies from the same year. All of those great old movies will be forgotten if they aren't colorized.

The colorization technology has improved vastly over the last decade and a half, and it's time to colorize films. Don't mess with films like "Citizen Kane" where a strong effort was put into the b&w cinematography, but for the "Bringing Up Baby" movies, where the quality is in the script and acting, why not colorize them?

As rental store shelf space becomes less and less important, with more movies obtained through the mail, from Netflix and Amazon, and with downloading on the horizon, colorized versions won't permanently crowd out b&w originals. The old version will always be available for purists.

As the technology evolves, it will become feasible for artists to create colorized versions that are better than the originals, where the color adds to the aesthetic experience. For example, I'd like to see Steven Spielberg's colorization of the old "Gunga Din," a great adventure comedy that deserves a lavish color scheme.

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Totally agree with you. For the movie buffs the original could be enhanced in B & W. But with the new Technology around , wouldn't it be wonderful to see the old Gangster Movies in radiant Colour & Movie SOund.