Brian Price

in Cinema and Media Studies

ISBN: 9780199791286
Published online January 2013 | | DOI:

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The history and theory of film has, from the very beginning, been characterized by subfields devoted to major stylistic elements and constitutive features: movement, sound, editing, narration, and acting. Color—for a variety of reasons—has emerged as a subfield of film studies only very recently. For a long time, the perceptual difficulty of color, as well as the more empirical problems of color fading, appeared as obstacles to enduring and reliable studies of color practices and processes. However, over the last few years, a great deal of work has begun to emerge. New studies of color processes and color technologies are being written. In many respects, histories of color technology have been the most common approach since the 1930s. They have tended toward quasi-scientific accounts of how each color system worked, or else they have investigated the industrial development of new systems and the problems (aesthetic or market-related) that each system has attempted to solve. Today, we are seeing more complex accounts of the historical development of color, including broader concerns with aesthetic and perceptual issues—even where a scholar remains concerned with the development of this or that color process—and an increased attention to neglected moments of national production beyond the borders of America. Interpretive work on color has likewise proliferated, from close analyses of single films to broader studies of a single director’s color style. And in a manner long familiar to art history, more general accounts of color styles are emerging. Color has also become a central concern for film theory; the so-called perceptual difficulty of color now sits at the center of the frame, complicating ontological, affective, and epistemological claims about the moving image in new ways. At a broader, institutional level, the work of numerous scholars who deal with the relation between cinema and painting as a question of color has had the salutary effect of broadening the interdisciplinary character of film as an object of study. The entries below, then, are intended to provide a sense of the major discourses and research on the roles of, and issues concerning, color in film, and they include statements that were articulated and research that was undertaken as color processes began to emerge in the early part of the 20th century, as well as very recent accounts of color across a wide variety of methodologies and sensibilities.

Article.  13866 words. 

Subjects: Media Studies ; Film ; Radio ; Television

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