Early experiments in colour filmmaking
‘The Toll of the Sea’, the first film to be made using the two-tone Technicolor process was released on this day, November 26 in 1922. It is also considered the first Hollywood film made in colour. It was shot under ‘natural light’ and outdoors, with the one ‘interior’ scene shot in sunlight under a muslin sheet. This was because the Technicolor camera divided the lens image into two beams to expose two film frames simultaneously through color filters, and at twice the normal frames per second, much higher lighting levels were needed.
A variation of the ‘Madama Butterfly’ story set in China instead of Japan, ‘The Toll of the Sea’ was not only Hollywood’s first colour feature but also the first colour film that didn’t require a special projector to be shown. The film, which premiered on 26th November 1922 at New York’s Rialto Theatre went into general release on 22 January 1923. It is also notable as the first leading role of Anna May Wong, the first Chinese American movie star.
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