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18 Oct 2012
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9781844573134
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18 Oct 2012
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9781844573127
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DescriptionReviewsContentsAuthors

How did the coming of colour change the British film industry? Unlike sound, the arrival of colour did not revolutionise the industry overnight. For British film-makers and enthusiasts, colour was a controversial topic. While it was greeted by some as an exciting development – with scope for developing a uniquely British aesthetic – others were deeply concerned. How would audiences accustomed to seeing black-and-white films – which were commonly regarded as being superior to their garish colour counterparts – react? Yet despite this initial trepidation, colour captivated many British inventors and film-makers. Using different colour processes, these innovators produced films that demonstrated remarkable experimentation and quality.

Sarah Street's illuminating study is the first to trace the history of colour in British cinema, and analyses the use of colour in a range of films, both fiction and non-fiction, including The Open Road, The Glorious Adventure, This is Colour, Blithe Spirit, This Happy Breed, Black Narcissus, The Red Shoes, The Tales of Hoffmann and Moulin Rouge. Beautifully illustrated with full colour film
stills, this important study provides fascinating insights into the complex process whereby the challenges and opportunities of
new technologies are negotiated within creative practice. The book also includes a Technical Appendix by Simon Brown (Kingston University, UK), which provides further details of the range of colour processes used by British film-makers.


Description

How did the coming of colour change the British film industry? Unlike sound, the arrival of colour did not revolutionise the industry overnight. For British film-makers and enthusiasts, colour was a controversial topic. While it was greeted by some as an exciting development – with scope for developing a uniquely British aesthetic – others were deeply concerned. How would audiences accustomed to seeing black-and-white films – which were commonly regarded as being superior to their garish colour counterparts – react? Yet despite this initial trepidation, colour captivated many British inventors and film-makers. Using different colour processes, these innovators produced films that demonstrated remarkable experimentation and quality.

Sarah Street's illuminating study is the first to trace the history of colour in British cinema, and analyses the use of colour in a range of films, both fiction and non-fiction, including The Open Road, The Glorious Adventure, This is Colour, Blithe Spirit, This Happy Breed, Black Narcissus, The Red Shoes, The Tales of Hoffmann and Moulin Rouge. Beautifully illustrated with full colour film
stills, this important study provides fascinating insights into the complex process whereby the challenges and opportunities of
new technologies are negotiated within creative practice. The book also includes a Technical Appendix by Simon Brown (Kingston University, UK), which provides further details of the range of colour processes used by British film-makers.


Reviews

'In addition to the quality of the research, the book is also beautifully-designed. It features numerous colour illustrations – primarily frame enlargements – which are very helpful in comprehending Street's many detailed analyses of individual films. The book also features two appendices that enhance its value as a reference work: a list of the colour films distributed in Britain between 1938 and 1955 (based on Kinematograph Weekly), and a concise and very useful description of the colour film processes and technologies discussed in the book (compiled by Simon Brown). Colour Films in Britain succeeds both as a comprehensive national film history and as a reflection on colour in cinema, and will be a valuable and lasting contribution to the field of film studies.' - European Journal of Media Studies
 
'Sarah Street's groundbreaking study is that rare film history text which is at once absolutely authoritative, and pitched at a very high level in terms of discourse, but still readily accessible to the general reader. In addition, the volume is richly — and I mean intensely – illustrated with numerous, exquisitely printed frame blowups from the many films it examines, all in full color, and Street's analysis of the development of color, not only in the commercial British cinema, but also in the the experimental work of artists such as Len Lye, is meticulous and detailed.' - Wheeler Winston Dixon, Ryan Professor of Film Studies at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, USA, 'Framd by Frame', UNiversity of Nebraska-Lincoln's Film Blog http://blog.unl.edu/dixon/2012/12/26/colour-films-in-britain-the-negotiation-of-innovation-1900-1955/
 
Read 'Britain's wonderful worlds of colour', John Wyver's article about the book on the Illuminations blog: http://www.illuminationsmedia.co.uk/2012/12/britains-wonderful-worlds-of-colour/
 


Contents

Acknowledgements
Introduction 
Colour and Silent Cinema
Colour and Sound Cinema
Genre: Colour, Fantasy and Realism
Questions of Aesthetics: Image, Sound, Colour
Colour and the Audience: Stars, Gender, Colour and Society
Creating Colour in British Cinema: Questions of Authorship and Aesthetics
Technical Appendix; S.Brown
Notes
Bibliography
Index


Authors

SARAH STREET is Professor of Film at the University of Bristol. Her publications include Cinema and State: The Film Industry and the British Government, 1927–84 (co-authored with Margaret Dickinson, 1985); British National Cinema (1997, 2nd edition 2009); British Cinema in Documents (2000); Transatlantic Crossings: British Feature Films in the USA (2002); Black Narcissus (2005), and Film Architecture and the Transnational Imagination: Set Design in 1930s European Cinema (coauthored with Tim Bergfelder and Sue Harris, 2007). She is a member of the editorial boards of the Journal of British Cinema and Television and of Screen.
 
Technical appendix by Simon Brown:
SIMON BROWN is Director of Studies for Film and Television at Kingston University, UK. A historian and former film archivist, he has published widely on early and British cinema, including pieces on British colour films in the 1920s and in the 1930s, with a particular focus on Dufaycolor. Alongside Sarah Street and Liz Watkins, he is also co-editor of the forthcoming book Colour and the Moving Image: History, Theory, Aesthetics, Archive (New York, Routledge, 2012).