silent cinema



For tinting, the positive print is immersed into a variety of dye baths, scene by scene. To this end, the print has to be cut into the corresponding fragments and reassembled after the dyeing process. The dye homogeneously attaches over the entire image’s gelatin including the perforation area. Usually acid dyes were dissolved in a weak acid solution to form a chemical bond with the gelatin.

Tinting can be identified by the brighter image parts which are colored uniformly while the darker parts remain black. Often, however, the dyes are fading or producing complex color alterations due to their chemical nature, or tinting is combined with toning which makes identification more difficult.

While there were some conventional metaphorical associations such as blue tinting for

night scenes or red tinting for fire, these associations were neither stable nor mandatory. Therefore it is necessary to analyze the color scheme in each individual film with regard to its narrative structure unfolding in space and time.

Credit: Copyright: Friedrich-Wilhelm-Murnau-Stiftung, Wiesbaden. Photograph by Barbara Flueckiger. Source: Archivo Nacional de la Imagen – Sodre, Montevideo/ Cineteca di Bologna. Film: Das Cabinet des Dr. Caligari (GER 1919, Robert Wiene).


1966′s The Magic Serpent is not the first cinematic telling of the Japanese legend of Jiraiya, the folk-hero of “The Tale of the Gallant Jiraiya”.  Among these adaptations are three silent versions, the most famous of which is 1921′s Jiraiya The Brave. Directed by Shōzō Makino and starring Matsunosuke Onoe in the title role, what’s left of Jiraiya The Brave (Gōketsu Jiraiya) runs for twenty-one minutes, and introduced many special effects techniques which would be pioneered by tokusatsu artists decades later, including optical photography, matte work, and men in monster costumes. The twenty-one minute version of the film can be viewed on YouTube with English subtitles.


Star imagery in early films. 

Ali Baba et les quarante voleurs (FR 1902, Ferdinand Zecca); Visions d’art 3. La Fée aux étoiles (FR 1902, Pathé Frères); La Vie et la passion de Jésus Christ (FR 1903, Ferdinand Zecca); Le danse du diable | Weird Fancies (FR 1904, Gaston Velle); Le Papillon fantastique (FR 1909, George Méliès); La Poule aux Oeufs d’Or (FR 1905, Gaston Velle). 

In order to offer entertainment to the patients at the asylum, the planners of Norwich State Hospital built this elaborate theatre, with a stage for performances and, later, movies.  There was an organ to accompany silent films, and a full projection booth - from which this photograph was taken.  On the floor below was a rollerskating rink.  Sadly, a few years back, this building was demolished - along with the power plant and two of the most historic buildings on the campus - for little apparent reason.  Currently, nothing has been done with the space that millions of dollars were spent clearing these buildings off of.

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