The Technicolor Camera

Apparently the first commercial films in colour that were shown widely at the cinema was back in the mid thirties.

We all must have seen ‘The Wizard of Oz’ and ‘Gone with the Wind’ or even ‘The Adventure of Robin Hood’ with Errol Flynn. All in dazzling Technicolor.

To achieve the wonderful colour they got, there had to be huge banks of studio lighting giving out lots of heat and the large Technicolor camera was very heavy and not very mobile but in spite of this we got great action shots which coupled with smooth and expert cutting resulted in top rate films.

The above ones just spring to mind. There are many others

Ken Annakin directed the wonderful ‘The Story of Robin Hood and His Merrie Men’ at Denham film studios andin his Autobiography describes the difficulties of working with these cameras but he admitted that the results they got were well worth it. That film was a superb example of the use and end product of Technicolor at its best – as was The Prisoner of Zenda 1952

Here is Ken Annakin ABOVE directing a studio scene on Robin Hood – on a studio set at Denham

ABOVE another picture of the large Technicolor Camera being used

As regards colour in films like with so much else in the 20th century, it took the involvement of Walt Disney for things to really get going.

Technicolor was used for Walt Disney’s first feature, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1937). The film community and the movie-going public were enthralled. This was the colour that they had been promised all along.

Some actors began to revel in colour. No one ever glittered like the Queen of Technicolor, Maria Montez, in Cobra Woman (1944).

The British probably did colour better than anyone else. Well at least three people did – the directorial team of Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger with their frequent collaborator Jack Cardiff – later to become a film director in his own right. From A Matter of Life and Death (1946), Black Narcissus (1947), or the very redness of The Red Shoes (1948), this is the Technicolor we all love.

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