Book Fantasia of Color in Early Cinema now in bookshops

29 June 2017

From today, Fantasia or Color in Early Cinema is in bookshops - a glorious anthology of coloring in early film, using a large selection from the EYE collection. The subject is explained in detail by the four authors who enjoy a great deal of expertise in this area, with a foreword Martin Scorsese.

Stunning visuals in context

The images are loosely ordered in five thematic chapters: The Dream, The Fairytale, Metamorphosis, The Voyage and a rest collection of sorts, Fancy. The book begins with four accessible essays and ends with an extensive filmography to provide the flow of images with context. There is also a Facebook page.

Foreword Martin Scorsese

Martin Scorsese, patron saint of film scholars, wrote a beautiful preface. He warns that our preference for thinking in milestones negatively affects historical reality.

The authors

The four essays come from film scientists Tom Gunning and Joshua Yumibe, chief conservator of EYE and Professor of Film and Digital Film Culture (University of Amsterdam) Giovanna Fossati and illustrator and animator Jonathon Rosen. The filmography at the end is annotated by Elif Rongen-Kaynakçi, EYE curator Silent Film.

'Color for color's sake'

Tom Gunning explains what coloring in early film involves in his introduction to manual coloring, stenciling, tinting and toning. He concludes his contribution with an inspiring call to see the book primarily as a tribute to ‘color for color's sake’.

Joshua Yumibe addresses the coloring industry that originated, and the origin of the pigments. The big companies, such as Pathé, worked with laboratories where two hundred painters worked simultaneously in the hey days: dull and precise work.

How do you restore a colored movie?

In her contribution, Giovanna Fossati outlines the archival issues and restoration practices. Film is a medium of copies, and many early movies have retained several versions that are mounted differently, or none of them are complete. The coloring can vary greatly between copies of the same movie.


Illustrator and animator Jonathon Rosen tells a little more about the creation of the book, and the choices of stills. He explains that individual stills from the same film strip are often so different in color, that sometimes the choice was made to include several in the selection.

Finally, Elif Rongen-Kaynakçi wrote the explanation of the filmography at the conclusion of the book, with the selection criteria and notes on the date of film. The filmography contains 63 films from the EYE collection. Several of the films can now be viewed online

About the series Framing Film

Fantasia of Color is the latest publication in the series Framing film, a collaboration between Amsterdam University Press and EYE. This series shows studies on restoration, collection, archival practices and performance, viewed from the EYE archive. The first book from this series was From Grain to Pixel (2011) by Giovanna Fossati; She is currently working on the third revised edition that will be released next year. Other publications were Light Image Imagination (2013) edited by Martha Blassnigg, Preserving and Exhibiting Media Art (2013) edited by Julia Noordegraaf, Barbara Le Maitre, Vinzenz Hediger and Cosetta Saba, and Watch and Learn (2012) by Eef Masson.

Fantasia of Color in Early Cinema is available from today in bookstores. The book is for sale at the EYE Shop and can be viewed  in our library.

ISBN: 9789089646576
Number of pages: 288
Authors: Giovanna Fossati, Tom Gunning, Joshua Yumibe, Jonathon Rosen
Publisher: Amsterdam University Press
Price: € 34,95