Berlinale: Retrospective

Retrospective 2015:
“Glorious Technicolor. From George Eastman House and Beyond”

The Retrospective of the 65th Berlin International Film Festival promises to be an opulent colour spectacle. It will celebrate the 100th anniversary of a colour film process that has become a legend far beyond Hollywood: Color by Technicolor. The Retrospective will present around 30 magnificent Technicolor films, some of which have been elaborately restored. They were made in the early years between the dawn of Technicolor and 1953 – and include six British films.

Trailer: Singinʼ in the Rain

“The blazing red of Southern skies in Gone with the Wind or the ecstatic yellow of the raincoats in Singin’ in the Rain – in those days, the play of dramatically intensified colours was a sensation. The Technicolor process combined with cultural and economic trends to produce great cinematic works of art that still thrill audiences today,” says Berlinale Director Dieter Kosslick.

As of 1915, inventors Herbert T. Kalmus, Daniel Comstock and W. Burton Wescott developed the two-colour process Technicolor No. I at the company they had founded for this purpose: Technicolor Motion Picture Corporation. This system used a beam splitter, and red and green filters to record and project the film. However, the spectrum of colours that could be reproduced on the screen in this process was still limited.

Viewers and film critics responded with some reserve to these first films and the flickering fringes of the colours. Though it was the scepticism of cinema operators, coupled with their own high standards, that repeatedly motivated Kalmus and his team to make ever new improvements over the next years and decades. With Technicolor No. IV, in which the three colours green, red and blue were used as of 1932, a level of quality was achieved that gave Technicolor its brilliancy. For the first time the whole colour spectrum could be reproduced. Technicolor No. V, introduced in 1952, was just a process for printing film, not for shooting it.

Technicolor was never connected to one single style even if, in comparison to the transparency of other colour film processes, it had a rather saturated look. Instead it aimed at making the use of colour more conscious and deliberate. Technicolor came into its own especially in (melo-)dramas, musicals and adventure films.

In Richard Boleslawski’s drama The Garden of Allah (USA 1936), the empty expanses of the desert, that appear in warm shades of red and brown, become landscapes of the soul. In George Sidney’s adventure film The Three Musketeers (USA 1948), dashing young men battle in dazzling pink and light blue in an entirely stylised and artificial setting.

A true box-office hit was the MGM musical The Wizard of Oz (Victor Fleming, USA 1939), which competed with the Technicolor films of Walt Disney Productions. In The Wizard of Oz, colour was used so excessively that the actors in their imaginative costumes look almost like in a cartoon. And in Howard Hawks’ Gentlemen Prefer Blondes (USA 1953), Marilyn Monroe is clad in an irresistible pink set against a rich red backdrop when she sings “Diamonds are a girl’s best friend”.

Stunning panoramas characterise Westerns in Technicolor. In King Vidor’s Duel in the Sun (USA 1946), hate and love are acted out under the scorching orange-red desert sun. In John Ford’s She Wore a Yellow Ribbon (USA 1949), Monument Valley and its earthy tones serve as a picturesque backdrop that sets off the resplendent uniforms and details on the costumes.

Ultimately, in 1953, Technicolor’s rival – colour negative film – started booming. Today it is important to get as close to the original of these splendid Technicolor films as possible. “Thanks to the cooperation with George Eastman House in Rochester, we will be able to present prints from one of the world’s largest and best preserved collections of Technicolor films – and they will range from original prints to modern colour film prints. Thanks to the support of other film archives and studios, we will also be showing a large number of restored versions,” comments Rainer Rother, Head of the Retrospective and Artistic Director of the Deutsche Kinemathek.

For the Retrospective, Bertz + Fischer Verlag is publishing a richly illustrated book, “Glorious Technicolor”. In essays, renowned authors – including Scott Higgins, Barbara Flückiger and Susanne Marschall – will explore in depth the multi-faceted, and hitherto partly disregarded, phenomenon of Technicolor for the first time in German.

The Retrospective’s film programme will be supplemented by events at the Deutsche Kinemathek. George Eastman House in Rochester, New York, had the idea for the topic of the upcoming Retrospective. It was then developed in partnership with the Deutsche Kinemathek, The Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) and the Austrian Film Museum. Thanks to this cooperation, the film series will also be presented in Vienna (April 2015) and New York (summer 2015).

Curatorial Board of the 2015 Retrospective:
Rainer Rother (Artistic Director Deutsche Kinemathek, Section Director Retrospective), Rajendra Roy (Chief Curator of Film at MoMA, New York), Alexander Horwath (Director Austrian Film Museum, Vienna), Connie Betz (Program Coordinator Retrospective, Deutsche Kinemathek), Annika Schaefer (Editor, Deutsche Kinemathek), Joshua Siegel (Curator of Film at MoMA), Regina Schlagnitweit (Programme and Print Coordination, Austrian Film Museum).

Since 1977, the Berlin International Film Festival has organised film history Retrospectives in cooperation with the Deutsche Kinemathek – Museum für Film und Fernsehen. The Retrospective is always dedicated to an important director or a film history theme. The Retrospective brings German and international films back to the big screen, often with a restored version or new copy. Contemporary film is positioned within a historical context.

Berlinale Classics

Beginning in 2013, the Retrospective expanded to include presentations of Berlinale Classics. By integrating current restorations of film classics as well as rediscovered films in brilliant image and sound a forum is created to premiere the growing number of high-quality restorations and reconstructions that make use of new digital-processing technologies.

As a rule, films screened in Berlinale Classics are introduced by a prominent festival guest. Berlinale Classics carries on the Retrospective torch by presenting new restorations independently of the Retrospective’s current theme, and is supported through co-operations with international partners.

The Retrospective has been managed by the Deutsche Kinemathek since 1977 that has organised the following Retrospectives:

  • Aesthetics of Shadow. Lighting Styles 1915–1950 (2014)
  • The Weimar Touch. The International Influence of Weimar Cinema after 1933 (2013)
  • The Red Dream Factory. Mezhrabpom-Film and Prometheus 1921–1936 (2012)
  • Ingmar Bergman. Film as life and life as film (2011)
  • PLAY IT AGAIN…! 60 Years Berlinale (2010)
  • 70 mm - Bigger than Life (2009)
  • Luis Buñuel (2008)
  • City Girls. Images of Women in Silent Film (2007)
  • Dream Girls. Film Stars in the 1950s (2006)
  • Production Design + Film. Locations, Settings, Spaces (2005)
  • New Hollywood 1967-1976. Trouble in Wonderland (2004)
  • F. W. Murnau (2003)
  • European 60’s (2002)
  • Fritz Lang (2001)
  • Artificial People (2000)
  • Otto Preminger (1999)
  • Siodmak Bros. Berlin – London – Paris – Hollywood (1998)
  • G. W. Pabst (1997)
  • William Wyler (1996)
  • Happy Birthday, Cinema! (1995)
    Buster Keaton 100
    Slapstick & Co.
  • Erich von Stroheim (1994)
  • CinemaScope (1993)
  • Babelsberg. A film studio (1992)
  • Cold War (1991)
  • The Year 1945 (1990)
    40 Years Berlinale
  • Europe 1939 (1989)
    Erich Pommer
  • Colour. The History of Colour Film (1988)
  • Rouben Mamoulian (1987)
  • Henny Porten (1986)
  • Special Effects (1985)
  • Ernst Lubitsch 1914-1933 (1984)
  • Exile. Six Actors from Germany (1983)
  • Insurrection of Emotions: Curtis Bernhardt (1982)
    East German Children’s Films
  • The Producer: The Films of Michael Balcon (1981)
  • Billy Wilder (1980)
    3D Films
  • Rudolph Valentino (1979)
    We Danced Around the World. Revue Films
  • Marlene Dietrich, Part 2 (1978)
    Censorship – Banned German Films 1933-1945
  • Marlene Dietrich, Part 1 (1977)
    Love, Death and Technology. Cinema of the Fantastical 1933-1945


  • Eleanor Powell
  • Conrad Veidt, Part 2
  • Great German Films 1929-1932
  • German Short Films of the 1930s, Part 2


  • Greta Garbo
  • Conrad Veidt, Part 1
  • German Short Films of the 1930s, Part 1


  • Lilian Harvey
  • Jacques Feyder
  • Norman McLaren


  • Wilhelm/William Dieterle
  • American Musicals
  • Animations by Dave Fleischer


  • Douglas Fairbanks
  • Ludwig Berger
  • American Animations 1940-1955


  • Busby Berkeley
  • Eddie Cantor


  • Winners of the “Golden Bears” and other Berlinale films
  • Ginger Rogers and Fred Astaire


  • Abel Gance
  • Musicals 1929-1950
  • Oskar Fischinger


  • Ernst Lubitsch, Part 2
  • W. C. Fields


  • Ernst Lubitsch, Part 1
  • Harry Langdon


  • Cinema Novo
  • Max Ophüls
  • Mack Sennett


  • Masterpieces of German Film1895-1932


  • Louis Lumière
  • Pola Negri
  • Paul Leni


  • Elisabeth Bergner
  • E. A. Dupont
  • Karl Grune
  • Yasujiro Ozu


  • Asta Nielsen
  • G. W. Pabst
  • Ingmar Bergman


  • Richard Oswald
  • Billy Wilder
  • Akira Kurosawa


  • 10 Years Golden Berlin Bear
  • Musicals from 1930-1945
  • Musicals from 1930-1945 (Experimental film special programme)


  • International Masterpieces from the Early Years of Talkies


  • Masterpieces of International Film from 1915 to 1945


  • German Artists in Foreign Film


  • The Humour of Nations


  • 60 Years Film


  • Showcase of Famous Films


  • Silent Movies

Section Partner
The watch manufacturer Glashütte Original, co-partner of the Berlinale, has been a section partner of the Homage and Retrospective since 2014.


Retrospective & Homage
Potsdamer Straße 2
10785 Berlin
phone +49 30 300 903-26
fax +49 30 300 903-13