Tuesday, October 12, 2004

Colour con

Terribly annoyed about the computer-colorisation of Mughal-e-Azam (it’s being re-released across the country in its garish new clothes next week) and, worse, the way some people seem to think this is a good thing. Back in the 1980s Ted Turner launched a similar evil scheme in Hollywood but movie-lovers managed to fight back and stem much of the damage. (I retched when I saw a meretricious colorised version of Arsenic and Old Lace -- Frank Capra’s glorious black comedy -- telecast on TNT a few years ago. Cary Grant looked like he had jaundice.)

Problem is, in India, this sort of thing has the potential to get out of control, what with the general apathy to the finer points of filmmaking and the ridiculous equating of black-and-white with "old and boring". It’s worth noting that for all the experimentation that has (supposedly) crept into Indian cinema in recent years, no one’s actually making films in black and white -- something that is done regularly in film industries all over the world.

Something else I find interesting is that people who stand up to protest this savaging of old movies are invariably accused of snobbishness and elitism. Roger Ebert’s succinct retort to that was: "Snobbishness by definition entails the excluding of something as an option. The people doing this are those who seem to want black-and-white to be done away with as an artistic choice."

1 comment:

  1. Absolutely right. I remember discussing TNT with you on many occasions, and how it fucked things up. But also remembering agreeing that it was sort of hopeless, and helpless, because this was possibly the only way we (or at least I, then) could catch some of these films. Remember Maltese Falcon and Midred Pierce and stuff...
    Strangely, Arsenic and Old Lace is the film I remember as well. Is it because we discussed it often?