Travelogues. The origins of colour in cinema

Travelogues dominated the early days of cinema and were also fundamental to the consolidation of documentary as a genre and to understanding the beginnings of ethnographic cinema. This session presents a series of coloured travelogues that transported early viewers to exotic, picturesque worlds, linking the very concept of travel to the images and their creation.

Emerging at the end of the 19th century and like many means of transport (train, steamship, car and plane), the travelogue became a virtual device for exploring the world. At a time when tourism was still elitist, these films made it possible to convey to common spectators the perceptive experience of travelling and the possibility of glimpsing unknown lands. Filmed by expeditionaries, travellers and explorers, they contributed to the knowledge, understanding and mastery of the different places, as well as their inhabitants, whilst also offering visions of these locations that would stimulate the imagination and reverie of the spectators.

At first these films were shown in black and white until the use of colour became much more commonplace in 1909, thanks to mechanisation and the improvement of the pochoir stencil-colouring system, making the Western construction of other territories exotic. This chromatic standardisation was due not to a need for realism but the need to capture the world as an image, often revealing an authoritarian view of other places that typifies them and considers them as a visual spectacle.

Reis Willem I-Djocja, J.C. Lamster, Netherlands, 1912-1913, no sound, 12''
Le Lac de Kandy, unknown author, Netherlands, 1912, no sound, 3' 12''
The Wonderful Fruit of the Tropics (Part of India on Film: 1899-1947), unknown author, UK, 1914, no sound, 5' 09''
Villenour (French India: Territory of Pondicherry) (Part of India on Film: 1899-1947), unknown author, UK, 1914, no sound, 4'26''
Bits & Pieces Nr. 99, unknown author, Netherlands, 25''
Bits & Pieces Nr. 50, unknown author, Netherlands, 2'51''
Bits & Pieces Nr. 252, unknown author, Netherlands, 1'24''
Hongarije, unknown author, Netherlands, 23', subtitled in Catalan
Coiffures et types d'Hollande, Alfred Machin, Netherlands, 1910, 3'48''

Screening in DCP and digital. Copies from the Eye Film Institute, British Film Institute and Cineteca di Bologna. 

17 February 2022


Admission fee

€ 4 / € 3 Concessions

5-session pass: € 15 / € 12 Concessions

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