Nowadays we take color for granted. When a monochromatic film is released, it receives more attention for the sheer fact that it is different. Now imagine it’s 1923 and you’re seeing “The Toll of the Sea,” Hollywood’s first color feature produced by the “forgotten pioneer” Herbert Kalmas. You’re flabbergasted, no doubt, and what the film lacks in background and plot, it makes up for in sheer radiance.
Kalmas was a student at MIT who didn’t have a particular interest in the film industry, but he was certainly interested in the scientific intricacies. His experiments eventually came to utilize various color lenses on film (remembering that white light incorporates every color of the spectrum) and once he received funding from the Bon Ami company (George Eastman notably turned him down) Kalmas founded the Technicolor Motion Picture Corporation. (They adapted the name as an ode to MIT.)
In “Glorious Technicolor,” a visually stunning documentary from Turner Classic Movies narrated by the inimitable Angela Lansbury, we are throttled into the ever-changing world of color, watching how it began and then transformed cinema into the vivid universe we find ourselves within today.
Featuring cameos and interviews from decades of film stars like Esther Williams, cinematographers like Jack Cardiff and John Alton, and featuring films like “The Wizard of Oz,” “Gone With The Wind,” John Huston’s “Moulin Rouge,” and the works of Vincente Minnelli, it’s a great look at a format that changed movies forever.
Watch the documentary below, and let us know what your favorite Technicolor moment is in the comments.