TED TURNER TO MONOCHROMIZE FILMS
Colorization of black and white movies was a popular trend in the 1980s. Using powerful computers to add appealing hues, Ted Turner and others hoped to make old movies accessible to younger audiences who just would not watch black and white. This craze that lasted well into the '90s, then faded away like all fads. Not everyone liked it. Many film critics, historians, and art purists objected to altering works in this manner. TV critic Eric Mink viewed colorization as a "bastardization" of film. The Writers Guild of America West called it "cultural vandalism." "It was like drawing a moustache on the Mona Lisa! Colorization is worse than gang graffiti," said Hollywood historian, Ian Drake. Many viewers of colorized films said that the colors just looked fake. Kids even pointed and laughed at some of them.
In spite of criticism that great art was being ruined, Disney, Turner, and several others continued putting their digital crayons to the classics. Along the way, Turner noticed something. Movies originally shot in color, no matter how popular they were with the masses, were not taken seriously by the art community. Fledgling filmmakers such as Spike Lee and Kevin Smith were instantly considered great artists by shooting their first films in monochrome. They did it because black and white film is cheap, not for effect, but it worked. Turner wondered if modern Icons of Pop Culture would be taken more seriously by critics if color were removed. He was especially taken with how Kevin Smith's black-and-white debut, Clerks was praised as a work of art, but his color follow-up, Mallrats, was derided as Porky's style teen garbage. Turner, who many insiders view as quite the dullard, is convinced that anything in black and white is art, and anything in color, no matter how well done, is only pop culture. We spoke to him about his new production house, Film Noir Et Blanc.
"We are going to bring the greats of popular culture to the highbrows who don't properly appreciate them by speaking their language. Star Wars, for example, was one of the greatest movies ever made. It should have swept the Academy Awards. E.T. was a masterpiece! Why didn't the academy get it? And Ishtar! Has there ever been a funnier comedy? Those old Bob Hope and Bing Crosby Road To turkeys cannot hold a candle to it. I am currently negotiating with Lucasfilm to Monochromize the entire set of Star Wars and Indiana Jones movies. Imagine the scene where Luke and Han get their medals in the artistic beauty of black and white. It won't seem corny anymore once that darn flashy color is gone! George Lucas' Star Wars will finally be hailed as one of the all time greats, right up there with Orson Wells' Citizen Kane, and Edward D. Wood Junior's masterpiece, Plan 9 From Outer Space. I can't wait!
Watch for monochromized films this fall on TNT, TMC, and TBS. Turner thinks they will be a hit, but Hollywood historian, Ian Drake says, "I think Ted Turner is smoking crack!"