Upstate NY film museum gets Technicolor collection

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[April 01, 2010]  ROCHESTER, N.Y. (AP) -- Technicolor, the color-movie pioneer synonymous with Hollywood glamour, is donating filmmaking artifacts to George Eastman House to round out the New York museum's trove of original reels of movie classics such as "Gone with the Wind" and "The Wizard of Oz."

HardwareThe gift of cameras, printers, photos, drawings and documents detailing the creative process behind Technicolor movies produced from World War I to 1974 solidifies the film and photography museum's status as the world's largest research institution for film-technology scholars.

The French telecommunications and film technology company's archives, kept in vaults in Los Angeles, might have been junked if the museum hadn't stepped in and rescued them, said Caroline Frick Page, motion picture curator for Eastman House.

The entire corporate collection "makes it one of the most unique pieces of film history existing in archives for study today," she said Friday.

Eastman House, situated in Kodak founder George Eastman's 50-room Colonial Revival mansion in Rochester, has been gathering up valued photographs and films since 1947. The museum expects to someday recreate a Technicolor movie set that might also be turned into a traveling exhibition.

More than 6,600, pre-1951 movies captured on volatile nitrate film are kept in frigid, low-humidity vaults owned by the museum. Cold storage saves them from rotting away, potentially for hundreds of years.

On the shelves are some of the oldest surviving negatives or prints dating to the dawn of moving pictures in 1893. Among the 22,800 reels are 3,000 on Technicolor film, including the original camera negatives of "Gone with the Wind," "Meet Me in St. Louis" and "Little Women."

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The painstaking Technicolor system, which turned into an industry standard beginning in 1927, typically required scenes in films like "The Wizard of Oz" to be recorded simultaneously in yellow, cyan and magenta.

With more than 30,000 movie titles, Eastman House is one of four major U.S. motion-picture archives alongside the Museum of Modern Art in New York, the Library of Congress and the University of California, Los Angeles. Among its treasures are the archives of filmmakers Cecil B. DeMille, Kathryn Bigelow, Spike Lee, Ken Burns and Martin Scorsese.

"Technicolor is to be commended for understanding the crucial importance of preserving its archive," Scorsese said in a statement. Eastman House's expertise in photograph and film conservation makes it "the perfect place for this historically invaluable collection."

[Associated Press; By BEN DOBBIN]

Copyright 2010 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.\

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