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Table of Contents:
Perhaps the earliest production work available to women in the film industry was coloring work—hand-coloring dyes onto film prints frame by frame. Female colorists were also common in the nineteenth century in the lantern-slide and postcard industries, for at least initially, they could be exploited at a lower wage than men to perform the repetitive and detailed tasks. By the mid-1890s, the film industry had adopted similar labor strategies for coloring prints. Aesthetic assumptions also grounded this practice: an enduring trope of western color theory pertains to the gendering of color—females have long been assumed to be more attuned to color. Women were not only cheaper in general to employ but also were thought to be, with their supposed sensitivity and nimble fingers, innately suited to the detailed work of coloring films.Sources suggest that the Edison Company employed the wife of Edmund Kuhn in the mid-1890s to hand color prints such as the popular serpentine dance films (Yumibe, 45). According to Charles Edward Hastings, writing in the Moving Picture World in 1927, there were a number of other well-known female colorists working in the U.S. film industry at the turn of the century: “colorists in the early days were Miss Martini, of West Orange, N.J.; Miss Sarah Levy of New York City, and Miss Tompkins, of Brooklyn, N.Y. These famous hand colorists brought their art to a high degree of perfection, and displayed remarkable patience in working out their results” (346). However, scant documentation has been found about these women’s labor.
Anonymous. “Le Coloris." In Pathé, premier empire du cinéma. Ed. Jacques Kermabon. Paris: Editions Centre George Pompidou, 1994, 20–21.
Dana, Jorge. “Couleurs au pochoir: Entretien avec Germaine Berger, coloriste chez Pathé." Positif 375/376 (1992): 126–128.
Fossati, Giovanna. “When the Cinema Was Colored." All the Colors of the World: Colors in Early Mass Media: 1900–1930. Ed. Luciano Berriatúa. Reggio Emilia, Italy: Diabasis, 1998, 121–132.
Hastings, Charles Edward. “Natural Color Moving Pictures—Their History and Advancement." Moving Picture World (26 March 1927): 346.
Malthête, Jacques. “Les Bandes cinématographiques en couleurs artificielles: un exemple de Georges Méliès coloriés à la main." 1895 2 (1987): 3–10.
Mazeline, François. “Mme Thuillier nous rapelle . . . Le temps où le cinéma ne manquait pas de couleurs." L’Ami du Peuple du Soir (13 December 1929): n.p. quoted in Anonymous, “Le Gala Méliès." Le Nouvel Art Cinématographique 5:2 (January 1930): 74n1.
Musser, Charles. The Emergence of Cinema: The American Screen to 1907. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1990.
Talbot, Frederick A. Moving Pictures: How They Are Made and Worked. Philadelphia: J.B. Lippincott Co., 1912.
Turconi Project website: http://www.cinetecadelfriuli.org/progettoturconi/
Yumibe, Joshua. Moving Color: Early Film, Mass Culture, Modernism. New Brunswick, N.J.: Rutgers University Press, 2012.
A. Archival Filmography: Extant Film Titles (selected):
Serpentine Dance—Annabelle. Dir.: W. K. L. Dickson and William Heise (Edison Mfg. Co, US, 1895). Cast: Annabelle Moore/Whitford, si, hand colored, 35mm., 1 reel of 1. Archive: USM, ITG, ESV, USW, USL, GBB, ITT.
Le Voyage Dans la Lune. Dir.: Georges Méliès (Star Films, France, 1902). Cast: Georges Méliès, Bleuette Bernon, Victor André, si, hand colored, 35mm, 1 reel of 1. Archive (colored): FRL. Also in CAQ, CUH, ITB, ITG, DEI, ESM, USR, USW, USM, GBB, NLA, USB, DEK, USL, ROB, USF, FRB, DEF, USI.
La Poule aux Oeufs d'Or. Dir.: Gaston Velle (Pathé Frères, France, 1905). Ph.: Segundo de Chomón. Cast: Julienne Malthieu, si, hand colored, 35mm, 1 reel of 1. Archive: GRB, CAQ, ESM, USW, GBB, ITG, NLA, ATM, DEK, ROB, USF, USR, DEB.
Maudite Soit la Guerre. Dir.: Alfred Machin (Belge-Cinéma Film, Belgium, 1913). Cast: Albert Hendricks, Suzanne Bernie, Baert, si, stenciled (Pathé Frères), 35mm, 3 reels of 3. Archive (most complete): NLA. Also in BEB, ROB, CAQ, GBB.
Cirano di Bergerac. Dir.: Augusto Genina, sc.: Augusto Genina, Mario Camerini (Unione Cinematografica Italiana, Italy, 1923). Cast: Pierre Magnier, Linda Moglia, Angelo Ferrari, Umberto Casilini, si, stenciled (Pathé Frères), 35mm. Archive (most complete): USR. Also in ITC, USW, USF, ITN.
D. Streamed Media:
Trailer for recent book Fantasia of Color in Early Cinema (2015), published by EYE Filmmuseum and Amsterdam University Press, by Giovanna Fossati, Tom Gunning, Jonathon Rosen, and Joshua Yumibe.Complete Project Bibliographies....