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The Early Color Films Left Out of the History of Cinema

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Hyperallergic posted about a new book, Fantasia of Color in Early Cinema, which focuses on the often overlooked use of color in film that predates the iconic Wizard of Oz.

The dominance of black-and-white film only appeared in the sound era,” University of Chicago Professor Tom Gunning explains in one of the book’s thorough history essays. “For a variety of reasons — some aesthetic, some technical and some purely archival — this early use of color, while known to specialists, fell into near oblivion for most people until rather recently.”

Fantasia of Color focuses on the pre-World War I era, when film was hand-tinted for each tiny frame. “This process was carried out by skilled but certainly underpaid laborers, primarily female, since it was believed that women’s fingers were more nimble,” Gunning adds.

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