Colorized film and photos of a deadly Antarctic Expedition in 1912

Originally published at:



Are Ponting’s original B&W images not “beautiful”?

They are to me.

Why not transcribe Scott’s expedition diary onto an iPad, and display that in place of the original? Makes about as much sense.


They don’t need color.


Interesting mini-doc on how they chose the scoring…

…for a film called The Great White Silence?


Yes, oddly enough, they colorized and added a score to film called The Great White Silence…

… I am more interested in the logic behind bringing a cat along. Mice on the ship…?


Rats. You’ve never heard of a “ship’s cat”?

The “Great white Silence”? No sound of man or machine, or life, away from the shore - just wind, or gale. or no wind at all,and no one to recount it.
Is that silent enough?


With that creepy ethereal soundtrack I couldn’t help but feel like this was a trailer for H.P Lovecraft’s “At the Mountains of Madness”.


I suspect that this is an attempt to get people to connect more readily with the story and imagery.
I appreciate the originals , of course, but with color added I do find it easier to connect with the people in the images. I can see myself there. (FWIW, I do occasionally practice b&w photography w/ a 35mm SLR…)

Of course, none of this means you have to like it, but maybe don’t try to delegitimize it…

Besides, this theme of colorizing things seems to have been pretty popular lately, right here on BB.

1 Like

I can understand restoration. But colorizing old B&W film is sacrilege. Are they going to dub in a fucking fake soundtrack onto it as well, so it will play better to yahoos who don’t understand that silent films were silent?

A hundred years from now, when the original nitrate film is long gone and all that’s left is a colorized Mp4 version recovered off an old torrent server found in somebody’s basement, the people who colorized it will be seen as no better than the “restorer” responsible for this:


When I look at these images, I know I’m not seeing the sky color that the members of the expedition saw in 1912.

I’m seeing the color that somebody with an image manipulation app likes, in 2016.


you could store authentic scans on your basement torrent server ; )

1 Like

Here: watch the whole thing in b&w.
That ‘restoration’ permanently destroyed the original.
This colorized version is iterative, the original still exists.

1 Like

100 years ago, person uses technologically ancient video camera to shoot black and white footage of a scene.

"Oh the colors of the sky are so sublime in this representation!"

Today, person uses modern technology and alters black and white representation to instead show representation with basic colors.

"This isn't what the original sailors saw at all!"

From the sounds of the BFI’s write-up, the 1924 film’s always been tinted and that’s what the restoration fixed. (If you look at the clip on Youtube, you’ll see it’s not “colourized” like the still image in the BB post, but rather a single colour across the entire frame.)

It was not uncommon for silent films to be tinted* and toned** — at its peak in the early 1920s, possibly as high as 90% of the films released per year contained at least some colour — and restoring them to the correct colour is actually a fairly difficult & involved process. Many copies of them didn’t preserve the colour, and those that did often reproduced colours that had already started to degrade.

* The developed film gets placed in a dye bath. The colour winds up in the highlights.
** The silver in the film is actively replaced. The colour winds up in the shadows.


René Magritte would agree with you.

I admit that I’m curious as to the new score. Did they not have a copy of the original score? Did it not originally have a purpose-written score?

That said, I honestly am not bothered all that much about it having a new score. Except for notably big-budget features, it wasn’t uncommon for silent films to be accompanied by whatever music the accompanists decided fit best, so it’s hard to say that a new score is somehow a betrayal of the original. But I’m always interested in the why.

The black cat! WTF. Aint they unlucky?

The colourization did nothing for me and would prefer the black and white any time.

…and unless you hear the original music from a hand cranked grammephone, it’s just not the same…

Trinity and Beyond was the first film that really brought home the potentual of recolored film photography. In the gorgeous hi res full color explosions I could see why the authorities might be so keen to plat with these deadly new toys. If the film had been “more true” to the original photography, it wouldn’t have had nearly the impact.

When Ted Turner was piss ing people off by colorizing classic movies, they were films that lots of people had already seen in the original monochrome. There are most likely no surviving audience members of the original today, this is not what you’d call a modern classic. So it seems pretty innocuous to try to make it more watchable with color. The hard core hipsters who turn their noses up at this can always just go to Antarctica themselves, since everyone knows film can’t do justice to the original.

1 Like

The ponies were unlucky.
Amundsen told Scott to take dogs, but Scott took ponies.

1 Like

Antagonizing the cat was unnecessary, poor Poplar.