I’m sure we are all familiar with the iconic film in which Charlie Chaplin plays a down and out tramp…the film called Making a Living?
Well, that film was originally filmed in monochrome at that time.
But very few people know that a chap called Charles Zoller, an American photographer, recreated the film in beautiful color using an old photo editing process.
It’s not really full color as we know it, but if you look closely, you can see a little pink tone on Chaplin’s cheeks and the wall behind him. The process is called colorization and was initially done by hand, to individual frames, but rarely for whole films, as you can imagine…two films to feature whole length colorization were Cyrano de Bergerac (1925) and Last days of Pompeii (1926).
Apparently, the modern version of this was invented in the 70s by two Canadians (yaay, Canada!), Wilson Markle and Christian Portilla and was immediately taken up for colorization of the NASA moon landings in 1970.
But getting back to Charlie Chaplin, the autochrome as it’s called, adds a lot of pathos and appeal to the tramp character, bringing him to life suddenly.
And the process was not confined to Hollywood alone; it was also taken up by film producers in many other countries around the world….especially so by the biggest movie centre aside of Hollywood, namely Bollywood, the Indian cinematic production machine. An example of colorization of one of the biggest cinema hit movies in Bollywood at the time is shown below, a scene from a film called Mughal-e-Azam, released in 1960, immediately breaking all box office records and becoming the highest grossing Bollywood movie of all time, a record it held for 15 years!
So yes, coloristaion….a fabulous thing that brought new life to already famous films!
photos courtesy flickr.com