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Questions of Colour in Cinema

From Paintbrush to Pixel


Edited By Wendy Everett

Colour is one of the few remaining uncharted territories of film studies, and its centrality to the construction and reception of film narratives has only recently been recognised. After a century of widespread critical and theoretical neglect, colour is now poised to become a prime focus within film studies at all levels, and this book will constitute a key voice within this debate. In a series of wide-ranging critical essays, marked by authoritative and innovative perspectives, the volume explores the shifting technologies, theories, and practices of colour in cinema, highlighting the intricate relationship between technological, philosophical, and artistic concerns, and making a compelling case for colour as a dominant and complex signifier in filmic discourse. The essays are divided into three main sections exploring the historical and technical dimensions of colour, the aesthetics of colour, and the significance of colour in relation to broader issues of race, gender, and identity, and are interdisciplinary and transnational in their focus. They provide the reader with a clear understanding of the significance of colour, exploring new pathways and identifying discoveries still to be made.


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Practices of Colour: Technical Dimensions and the Construction of Meaning


Contents Introduction 7 Chapter One The Aesthetic and Political Situation in the Weimar Republic 19 Chapter Two Bertolt Brecht: “Contradictions are Our Hope!” 51 Chapter Three Friedrich Wolf: Empathy Through Estrangement 97 Chapter Four Gustav von Wangenheim: “An Important, but Unknown Dramatist” 131 Chapter Five The Legacy of Proletarian-Revolutionary Theater in the GDR 155 Conclusion 209 Notes 219 Bibliography 235 Index 251 JOSHUA YUMIBE Silent Cinema Colour Aesthetics We must confess to a gradually waning interest in motography in natural colours. Such an achievement, it is true, is a scientific triumph; and divested of the necessity for special apparatus it would have great practical value. But one cannot watch the magnificent artificially coloured productions of the present day flit across the screen without wondering if the quest for natural colours is worth while (Anonymous, The Nickelodeon, 1910: 2).1 Colour has been one of the more historically and theoretically dis- regarded aspects of silent cinema. This is partially because of its chemical instability on the nitrate film base, making it difficult both to preserve and reproduce. The unfortunate result is that most of our silent films now only exist in black and white when originally the majority were manually coloured in part or in whole. A popular assumption that has arisen from this is that with silent cinema, the films were black and white, and colour did not enter the picture until three-strip Technicolor in the 1930s. However, thanks to a growing interest in early colour which has occurred over...

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