June 01, 2015

MOMA Technicolor Retrospective - “The Stuff That Dreams Are Made Of”

On June 5th, the Museum of Modern Art (New York) cinema program will unveil its 60-film Technicolor retrospective running for two months.


The series is being called “Glorious Technicolor: From George Eastman House and Beyond,” and includes an eclectic group of Technicolor films, ranging from the silent, 2-color era, up to the mid-1950s.  Associate Film Curator Josh Siegel worked with the curatorial team at the George Eastman House in creating the series and sourcing many of the films being presented.

In the program guide to the retrospective, published by MOMA (found here: https://www.moma.org/calendar/film/1528), Technicolor is celebrated as “the stuff that dreams are made of.”  If that line seems vaguely familiar, it surely has to do with it having being employed by director Martin Scorsese, in his multiple Academy Award-winning Hugo.  The line speaks to the magic of filmmaker George Méliès, but is also very much a celebration of the wonder of Technicolor for generations of moviegoers around the world.

The MOMA series follows presentations of Technicolor films at GEH that then traveled to Berlin and Vienna, with a short stop in Los Angeles at the TCM Classics Festival.  The MOMA series will present many films that are unique examples of Technicolor filmmaking over the company’s first forty years.  Stated Josh Siegel, “Our curating partner was very much the team at George Eastman House, but we (at MOMA) wanted our focus to be a bit more cohesive, and strictly on American films, while delving more deeply into some of the obscure titles that are possibly not as familiar to our MOMA audience.  We’ve included titles that are not obvious selections balanced with some films that are more broadly acknowledged as being ‘classics.’” The MOMA film program covers Technicolor history up to the mid-1950s and retirement of the Technicolor 3-strip camera. 

The series will be accompanied by talks conducted by authors James Layton and David Pierce, based upon their new book, The Dawn of Technicolor, published by GEH earlier this year, and focusing on specific topics they’ve advanced over the course of the year at events in Rochester, New York, Berlin, and Los Angeles.

Founded in 1935 as the Film Library, MOMA’s film collection now includes more than 22,000 titles and four million film stills; the strongest international film collection in the United States, it incorporates all periods and genres. Among the holdings are original negatives of the Biograph and Edison companies, and the world's largest collection of D. W. Griffith films. The film collection is stored in the Museum's Celeste Bartos Film Preservation Center, a state-of-the-art facility that opened in June 1996.

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