Thursday, August 26, 2010

Flickering Flappers in Full (well, not quite!) Colour

Apologies to those of you with whom I have already shared this video on Facebook and Twitter, but I'm still in awe:

Yep, that's COLOUR movies from 1922. The next time you grab some digital video on your iPhone and send it straight to YouTube, consider what a monumental accomplishment colour moving pictures were 88 years ago.

According to Kodak's blog, 1000 Words:

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.

Yeah, so it's not quite lifelike. But still a haunting set of visuals. Particularly when you consider that — with the possible exception of the little girl — all of these women are dead.

The identities of these women were almost lost to history — like the 1972 Playboy model whose face was used for early JPEG research* — until a film geek from a silent film fan site wrote Kodak with the following cast list: Mae Murray, Hope Hampton, and Mary Eaton (of the Ziegfeld Follies). The last woman, and the little girl (or is it a boy?) remain anonymous.

* This is another cool new thing I learned from Sex, Bombs and Burgers by Peter Nowak. If you're a pop culture anecdote junkie like me, I really can't recommend this book enough.


  1. Really cool footage. Absolutely gorgeous music as well

  2. Anyone know if that music is available?