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April 1994


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Film and TV Studies Discussion List <[log in to unmask]>
Wed, 27 Apr 1994 14:50:44 -0800
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Alan Sondheim...
>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 am by no means an expert on this subject, but from all the research I've
read, *all* dreams are in color. It's just that most people don't remember
the color information in their dreams unless there is a specific element
of the dream in which color is important (a character in the dream is wearing
a red sweater as opposed to a blue one, for example). Dreams are very
ephemeral, and unless the dreamer is awakened at the the height of the dream
or there is some kind of emotional content that makes a particularly strong
impression on the dreamer, most specific sensory information (color, smell,
taste, etc.) is lost in favor of the more general content of the dream
(characters, action). This is also why some people claim to have incredibly
colorful, detailed dreams, while others claim that they don't dream at all.
Some folks simply remember them better. As to why that is, though, I should
probably leave that question to someone who's a little bit better qualified
than me.
>[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.
But what about THE WIZARD OF OZ, in which the color scenes are obviously much
more dream-like than the black and white scenes?
Eric Borer
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