Early Discourses on Colour & Cinema
Origins, Functions, Meanings

Acta Universitatis Stockholmiensis. Stockholm Cinema Studies, No. 2

By Eirik Frisvold Hanssen
December 2006
Stockholm University
Distributed by Coronet Books Inc.
ISBN: 9185445452
207 pages, 6 1/2 x 9 1/2"
$79.50 Paper Original

This dissertation is a historical and theoretical study of a number of discourses examining color and cinema during the period 1909 to 1935 (trade press, film reviews, publications on film technology, manuals, catalogues and theoretical texts from the era).

In this study, color in cinema is considered as producing a number of aesthetic and representational questions which are contextualized historically; problems and qualities specifically associated with color film are examined in terms of an inter-relationship between historical, technical, industrial, and stylistic factors, as well as specific contemporary conceptions of cinema.

The first chapter examines notions concerning the technical, material, as well as perceptual, origins of color in cinema, and questions concerning indexicality, iconicity, and color reproduction, through focusing on the relationship between the photographic color process Kinemacolor, as well as other similar processes, and the established non-photographic color methods during the early 1910s, with an in-depth analysis of the Catalogue of Kinemacolor Film Subjects, published in 1912.

The second chapter examines notions concerning stylistic, formal and narrative functions of color in cinema, featuring a survey of the recurring comparisons between color and sound, found in the writing of film history, in discourses concerning early Technicolor sound films, film technology, experimental films and experiments on synaesthesia during the 1920s, as well as Einstein's notions of the functions of color in sound film montage. The third chapter examines the question of color and meaning in cinema through considering the relationship between colors and objects in color film images (polychrome and monochrome, photographic and non-photographic) during the time frame of this study.

Film History

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