A Color Movie from 1922

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The first full-length color movie (Becky Sharp) was released in 1935. But thirteen years earlier, Kodak made a short film test, photographing actresses vamping for the camera -- in color. It's a fascinating look into the fashion (at least the movie fashion) of 1922, and the lack of audio makes me wonder what the women are saying (any lip-readers out there?). Most curious are the poses being struck -- the woman around 2 minutes in (Mae Murray, I think) has a variety of strange poses in her repertoire, most involving nearly-closed eyes and some form of chin-jut.

Kodak has a blog post discussing the film, its restoration, and its history. Here's a snippet:

"In these newly preserved tests, made in 1922 at the Paragon Studios in Fort Lee, New Jersey, actress Mae Murray appears almost translucent, her flesh a pale white that is reminiscent of perfectly sculpted marble, enhanced with touches of color to her lips, eyes, and hair. She is joined by actress Hope Hampton modeling costumes from The Light in the Dark (1922), which contained the first commercial use of Two-Color Kodachrome in a feature film. Ziegfeld Follies actress Mary Eaton and an unidentified woman and child also appear.

George Eastman House is the repository for many of the early tests made by the Eastman Kodak Company of their various motion picture film stocks and color processes. The Two-Color Kodachrome Process was an attempt to bring natural lifelike colors to the screen through the photochemical method in a subtractive color system. First tests on the Two-Color Kodachrome Process were begun in late 1914. Shot with a dual-lens camera, the process recorded filtered images on black/white negative stock, then made black/white separation positives. The final prints were actually produced by bleaching and tanning a double-coated duplicate negative (made from the positive separations), then dyeing the emulsion green/blue on one side and red on the other. Combined they created a rather ethereal palette of hues."

So this is not the earliest Kodak color motion picture film -- that started in 1914. But it's still pretty darn early!

See also: Amazing Color Photos from WWI and Amazing 70-Year-Old Color Photos.

(Via Boing Boing.)

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August 26, 2010 - 7:28am
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