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April 1994


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Alan Sondheim <[log in to unmask]>
Reply To:
Film and TV Studies Discussion List <[log in to unmask]>
Tue, 26 Apr 1994 22:19:40 EDT
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The psychological effects of color vs. b&w cinema have long been
debated in film circles. It is well known that most of us dream most
of the time in black and white, which is at least in part indicative
of color processing as a secondary characteristic of identifications
(Land's seminal work also implies this, I believe). When does color
appear in a dream? Is there a typology of colored dreams, as opposed
to black and white? If there were, it would have great implications
for film theory. Beyond this, there is the question of a color
"switch" for lack of a better word: Why are dreams *in their
entirety* in black and white or color? What mechanism begins the
diegesis in this manner? This implies a lateral narratological
processing vs. a vertical chrominance processing...
I have always believed that the cognitive psychology and even
physiology of cinematic viewing relate closely to normative mental
processing (see my lonely *Theses on the Inversion of the Cinema* in
Millennium Film Journal #13). I am curious if the use of black
and white or color (beyond the historically contingent) might be
'subsumed' within the same...
[Another way to consider this: Since the 'real' is in color, but
dreams are often in black and white, 'black-and-white' becomes a
somewhat occluded signifier of the dream-state. A black and white
film is then always already ulterior to everyday normative processes.
This would explain the heightened 'reality' of black and white film,
in which EVERYTHING appears to signify - just as everything appears
to do in a dream.]