Thursday, September 17, 2009

A Thomas Edison Short Film

Yesterday in one of my film classes, I was reminded of one of my favorite short films of all time. I knew it could be found on YouTube so I wanted to share it with you all.

This short film, "Anna Belle Serpentine Dance" was done by Thomas Edison in 1895 and is one of the first known color films. Most people think that "Gone with the Wind" and "The Wizard of Oz" are among the first color films, but color films date back to the birth of the cinema. This short film was colored by the hand coloring technique. This is where each frame is hand painted. This process took a very long time and was very expensive. During this time there were a few other methods of coloring films that were popular. Toning was a process done during the exposure process, tinting or dipping, was done by dipping a section of the film into a bath of dye, and stenciling was done by making a stencil of the sections to be colored and then coloring them. Sometime more than one of these techniques were used to color films. One of the major forerunners in the stenciling movement were Pathe brothers, who were French and employed mostly women. These women worked mostly on the stenciling process because they had small hands. This was the first opening for women in the film industry.

The short film showed above is based off of Loie Fuller, a dancer that was famous for her style of dance. I just love how her dress drapes and she looks so graceful while the fabric swirls. I also really love how she is colored. Yellow is my favorite color and it shows up a lot in this film.

One more note on early colored films; most films that are colored from this time period are of women, which I find really interesting. Many think that it is because color and women are normally associated together, which would make sense why women were employed to color the films as well as star in them.

Let me know what you think of this film. Do you love it or hate it?? I am really interested to know how others feel about it!!