Category Archives: Movies

Color Footage of London, 1927

This is archive footage based on images captured by Claude Frisse-Greene, an early British pioneer of film. Nearly 90 years ago, he created a series of travelogues using a color process developed by his father William Frisse-Greene, a British portrait photographer and a well known inventor. His experiments in the field of motion pictures led him to be known as one of the fathers of cinematography.

One of William’s inventions was an additive color film process known as “Biocolour”, a rather cumbersome early color process. It works by exposing every other frame of standard black-and-white film through a different-colored filter, and then staining the resulting monochrome prints either red or green. In a motion picture projection, the combined frames create an illusion of real color.

Using computer enhancement, the British Film Institute reduced the flickering seen in the original footage.

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Roger Ebert Dead

Roger Ebert, my favorite film critic passed away from complications of cancer today. Given today’s fragmented media market, he will never be outdone. There’s much that could be said about his career and influence, but I will gladly leave this to others who are more knowledgeable.

But I wanted to post this letter Ebert sent to an student who was about 11 or 13 at the time.


Dana Stevens went on to study comparative literature at UC Berkeley, started a blog and is now a professional film critic. She has written for the New York Times, the Atlantic and the Washington Book World, among others.

Proof that real letters are more inspiring than e-mail!

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The Artist

Finally, I have made it to the theater to see The Arist. And, oh my, I was not only floored, but also almost speechless! This is one of the most perfect movies I have ever seen! When I close my eyes, I think I can see Charlie Chaplin smiling. It is a masterpiece.

With no less than ten Academy Award nominations, so much has been written about this movie that I don’t feel the need to add a lot more. (If you are so inclined, read the detailed reviews by movie critics Roger Ebert or Kenneth Turan).

Just this: if you think you don’t care for silent movies, do not be deterred. See it anyway! First of all, the movie is not “silent”. Secondly, there is a reason why the story was told this way. Go and find out! (But see it in the theater! It is meant for the big screen!)

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Silent Movies

I am excited that there’s a new silent movie out: The Artist (2011). I haven’t had a chance to see it yet, but I am looking forward to it.

When I was studying film theory in college, François Truffaut‘s fabulous Hitchcock (the 1967 book based on long interviews with Alfred Hitchcock) was a huge revelation for me. It turned me into a strict proponent of what I later coined “The Hitchcock Theorem”. It refers to the Old Master’s view that a good film should tell the story not in words, but mostly in pictures. Stories unsuitable for being told visually should remain novels. Some of them might be suitable for adaption into a stage play, but they should not become a screenplay. Hitchcock was very adamant about this.

When you look carefully, you will notice how many of today’s movies tell entire plots and sub-plots through dialogue between the characters. Hitchcock called this approach “lazy” film making, and he was opposed to this sort of screenwriting.

Inspired by the Truffaut’s book I wrote a college paper on one of Hitchcock’s masterpieces, Psycho. Analyzing the film scene by scene, I was amazed to see that the majority of it has no dialogue, and not even music.

Hitchcock attributed many of his skills as a film maker to the fact that he began his craft in silent films, and he lamented that later film makers no longer had this opportunity.

Here’s to silent movies!

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