ICO Archive Screening Day Programme: The Wonderful World of Colour
Colour has been used in silent film since its very beginning – as spectacle in its own right, as a means of underscoring a narrative by addressing the senses and emotions of the audience, and in relation to the opening up of a world of colour in other popular art forms.
In this selection you will find glorious examples of hand colour, tinting and toning, stencil colour from the sound era as well as Gasparcolor and Technicolor from the sound era.*
Grand Display of Brock’s Fireworks at the Crystal Palace (1904) | 4 mins
Fireworks designed for the coronation of Edward VII shown at the Crystal Palace in 1904 – filmed by Charles Urban.
Fairies and the Faun (1908) | 4 mins
A Pathé Feérie – entertainments evoking the great stag spectaculars of the era – like English Pantomime usually based on fantasies and fairy stories – full of stage tricks. Colour was an essential component.
Birth of a Flower (1910) | 7 mins
First time-lapse film showing the beauties of nature, appealing directly to the senses – would be considerably less effective in monochrome.
Dagon Pagoda (1910) | 7 mins
Pathé travelogue of the mysterious land of Burma (Myanmar) and the great golden pagoda of Rangoon.
Changing Hues (1922) | 7 mins
Narrative advertisement for Twink – you know? Twink!
On with the Dance (1927) | 5.5 mins
The fabulous Josephine Baker in the plantation dance, performing with other dancers from the famed Folies Bergère.
Colour on the Thames (1935) | 9 mins
Gasparcolor experiment showing big boats on the Thames as the techies twiddle the knobs on the colour balance.
Sky Pirates (1937) | 5.5 mins
Timely warning about the dangers of night starvation – luckily help is at hand.
Trade Tattoo (1937) | 5.5 mins
From happier times at Royal Mail – the melding of colour, form and music as only Len Lye and Jack Ellit could do it.
*Text by Bryony Dixon, Curator of Silent Film, BFI National Archive