I know a number of cinemaphiles. So when colourizing first came about for black and white films, I heard some of the debate. The name that kept on coming up to not colourize was Alfred Hitchcock’s film Psycho. For some reason, the grittiness of the black and white, it was agreed, helped the film.
But now, thinking of these arguments again, I can’t help but taking on the rebellious attitude of wanting to see Psycho in colour. So, if I ever get the opportunity I would colourize Psycho. But not just with straight forward colour.
Wouldn’t it be fine to see the sky in every shot, instead of being a black night or an ordinary time of day, being the gaudiest oranges, reds and yellows of sunset that nature can come up with? Of course time might seem inconsistent in the movie if it is always sunset. But I say that’s worthwhile if we can get these glorious colours in every shot.
Can you imagine the iridescent colours of tropical butterflies making up the colouring of most of the interiors? You know, colour that would make gay pride flags jealous.
And that much talked about science fiction trope of having green blood – we can have that in the human death scenes. Which would bring about the question ‘Are the victims really aliens that the psycho is unmasking?’ It would add a whole new dimension to the movie.
And finally this movie contains Alfred Hitchcock himself in one of his cameos. Wouldn’t it be fun to give this famous director flaming red lips. A ruddy nose would be nice, too, because I’ve always imagined that Mr. Hitchcock liked to imbibe lots and lots of alcohol.
But wait, wouldn’t it be loads of fun to decolourize more modern movies?
I know your thinking you can just air it over a black and white television and you’re done. But no, I mean taking a much bigger commitment. I want to take the colour out but leaving as much detail as possible. After all we would complain if it didn’t have high definition in whatever form we watch these movies.
Wouldn’t it be fun to see Top Gun in black and white. Or Apocalypse now. Or any of a number of movies that have wonderful colour cinematography. Imagine Avatar with grey aliens. Perhaps the grey of the blue skinned aliens would match the grey of the pinkish humans.
We could also go back to a couple of the first movies that used colour. Now I take the opposite position as earlier – wouldn’t it be better to watch Gone With the Wind without garish sunsets? And who needs to see the colours of all that clothing and Tara?
Or how about decolourizing the Wizard of Oz? Oz is so pretentious by glorying in colour while Kansas stays black and white throughout. Cutting Oz down to size rightfully puts it at the same level as Kansas. And I think that more should be expected of the audience. We should have to take the actors’ word for it that the yellow brick road is yellow and that the emerald city is green.
Aren’t colourizing and decolourizing great when used in the proper way? It’s yet another tool at our disposal to make life and cinema more grand.