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  1. #1
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    I was watching 'if....' for the fourth or fifth time on Sunday night and a thought came into my head. How true is the story that the reason Lindsay Anderson's film switches over to black and white was because they run out of colour film? The reason I ask is because the changes from colour to black and white don't appear to be random. The changes feel right. For example in the sword fight between Malcom McDowell and his friends the first half is in monochrome. When they go into another room to continue swordplay the film reverts to colour. Chance? Maybe, but the colour scene is where McDowell has the palm of his hand cut. We get to see his red blood. That particular moment in the film has to be in colour.

    Another example is the contrast between the seniors eating muffins and drinking tea (delivered to them by their 'fags') with the juniors cooking themselves a greasy fry up. The former scene in colour and the latter scene in black and white. Perhaps I should watch the film again, only this time with a note-book to jot down the sections of the film that are in black and white. On the whole 'if....' in colour has the feel of an observing movie. A crap term but I can't think of any other except 'documentary' and even that isn't right. When we watch it we are like anthropologists observing public school life. When 'if....' is in black and white it becomes more psychological. We get into the character's minds and souls a bit more.

    Does anybody have any links to the shooting schedule of the film? Is there anybody reading this message who worked on the film? Did the makers run out of colour film or could they only afford a certain amount of stock and from then looked at the screenplay and noted down which sequences would work better in black and white. The quality of the black and white film in the first chapel scene goes up and down in every shot which indicates the filmmakers were working with what they could afford. Nonetheless key elements of the film are in black and white:



    Meeting Christine Noonan in the coffee shop.

    Mary MacLeod walking naked in the dormitory whilst the teachers and pupils are out playing soldiers.

    The burgeoning of homosexual love in the gymnasium.

    Clearing out the junk and finding a jar with a fetus inside.



    What does anybody else think? Does anybody know the truth? If it is true that they ran out of colour film then I find it amazing that 'if....' doesn't look so haphazard. The changes to monochrome look quite deliberate.

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    I don't know the answer to your question Clinton, but firstly, welcome to the Britmovie Forum, and secondly I'd be amazed if it was anything other than Lindsay Anderson's attempt to "up the artistic anti" to put it immensely crudely!



    rgds

    Rob



    PS Another Oxfordshire film fan! Well done!

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    Although it's well known that films are not shot in sequence, I, too, tend to think that the filming of certain scenes in black and white had more to do with artistic choice than merely running out of colour film.



    Who knows how much colour footage would be used before shooting started anyway. It could only be worked out beforehand if you timed every take in advance and only did one take of each scene (and everyone concerned got it right the first time). As we all know, films can't be made that way for practical reasons.



    Besides, scenes like that in the gymnasium, where young Bobby Phillips (Rupert Webster) and the gym teacher are making eyes at each other have a dreamlike quality about them that wouldn't have worked the same in colour.



    I ran If...as a new film in 1969, during my time as a cinema projectionist and I remember the homosexual references in it to what now is called BoyLove were considered very daring at the time. Particularly the scene where one of the seniors, drooling over Bobby Phillips as he departs the staff room after delivering hot muffins, says: "Hmmmm, he gets a little lovelier each day." Nobody had ever said that about a young schoolboy in a film before and it must have stuck in many peoples minds.

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    Senior Member Country: UK Freddy's Avatar
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    Extracts taken from www.telegraph.co.uk Saturday 20th Nov.



    The full article is by Christopher Bray and is a review of THE DIARIES and NEVER APOLOGISE: THE COLLECTED WRITINGS both by Lindsay Anderson



    'Yes, that motiveless cutting between colour and black-and-white stock is just second-hand Godard; sure, those purposeless, near subliminal, intercut images – the chaplain in the drawer, the naked girl in the café – are just hand-me-down Resnais



    The Diaries make clear that Anderson's erotic impulses were homosexual. At one point he becomes excited just thinking about a poster image of Alan Ladd in leathers. But Anderson was buttoned up tighter than a Victorian spinster – not for nothing was Brief Encounter the only David Lean movie he admired – and he was always too cowardly to act on his desires. Little wonder that the existential insurrection his own pictures preach never convinces. The Diaries' blurb calls Anderson a "dissident revolutionary crusader". What the book doesn't tell you is that, while at prep school, Anderson put a notice on the board that said "I rebel." When asked to take it down, though, he did so immediately.'



    regards

    Freddy

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    Malcolm McDowell recorded an audio commentary for the film which is to have a special edition DVD release soon. Maybe he could enlighten us.

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    Saw Anderson interviewed once and he said that the film was indeed shot on colour stock but as they had run out of money it was the proccesing that they couldn't afford....colour process being far more expensive in those days than black and white ( the opposite is true now )



    Anderson said that he had to make judgments therefore as to which of the un-proccessed film stock would be processed in colour (expensive) or black and white (cheap)



    Whilst you can indeed buy plain black and white film stock all of "If.." was shot on colour stock...they just ran out of money before they got down to Boots ( thats why the film quality varies so much...it wasn't designed for the monochrome process )



    So the answer seems to be that everyone is right....it WAS financial straits that caused certain footage to be black and white....but those scenes WERE selected by Anderson.


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    Thanks for that reply Guybrush. Although, (not trying to contradict you) of course the monochrome scenes of 'A Matter of Life and Death' were shot in colour as was the Coen Brothers' 'The Man Who Wasn't There'.

    Malcom McDowell doing a commentary? That sounds brilliant. Though I'll probably buy a DVD copy once my video wears out/is chewed up.

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    "of course the monochrome scenes of 'A Matter of Life and Death' were shot in colour"



    Are you sure about that? It is just that, in interview, Jack Cardiff was sure that he used b/w film as he even had to resort to using a light meter for the first time. The shot which sees the transition from b/w to colour was filmed in colour though.

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    I'm going (from memory) by Michael Powell's autobiography 'A Life In Movies'. The story goes Michael asked Jack what colour film would look like in black and white. Jack replied that it would look pearly. Michael replied with something like, "Open up those pearly gates." But that might be an urban myth. Does anyone know the truth?

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    Where are you steve?

  11. #11
    Administrator Country: Wales Steve Crook's Avatar
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    You're both right :)



    In his autobiography, Michael did talk about filming the B&W sections on Technicolor. He suggests Jack said that they could shoot all the scenes in the other world in 3 strip Technicolor and then print it without the dyes to get that pearly effect. Micky turned to Alfred (Junge) and said "Open wide them pearly gates."



    But in his autobiography and in interviews Jack said that they did that just for the transitions between colour & B&W. He does talk about filming most of the rest of the other world scenes in B&W - which he'd never used before.



    Of the two I would tend to believe Jack more. We know that in other parts of his autobiography Micky sometimes embellished the truth or edited it in his memory so that it played more as he wanted to remember it happening.



    Steve

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    I read one that Kubrick after seeing this film decided that he would only make Clockwork Orange if Mcdowel would play the part of Alex.

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    (Rob Compton @ Nov 24 2004, 02:22 PM)

    but firstly, welcome to the Britmovie Forum
    I didn't recognise the name, and assumed a newbie, but 170 posts to his name.

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    a-d



    The post count gets updated on each post you make - so he's NOW made that number of posts....



    Try it and see



    rgds

    Rob

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    (Clinton Morgan @ Nov 24 2004, 01:22 PM)

    I was watching 'if....' for the fourth or fifth time on Sunday night and a thought came into my head. How true is the story that the reason Lindsay Anderson's film switches over to black and white was because they run out of colour film? The reason I ask is because the changes from colour to black and white don't appear to be random. The changes feel right. For example in the sword fight between Malcom McDowell and his friends the first half is in monochrome. When they go into another room to continue swordplay the film reverts to colour. Chance? Maybe, but the colour scene is where McDowell has the palm of his hand cut. We get to see his red blood. That particular moment in the film has to be in colour.

    Another example is the contrast between the seniors eating muffins and drinking tea (delivered to them by their 'fags') with the juniors cooking themselves a greasy fry up. The former scene in colour and the latter scene in black and white. Perhaps I should watch the film again, only this time with a note-book to jot down the sections of the film that are in black and white. On the whole 'if....' in colour has the feel of an observing movie. A crap term but I can't think of any other except 'documentary' and even that isn't right. When we watch it we are like anthropologists observing public school life. When 'if....' is in black and white it becomes more psychological. We get into the character's minds and souls a bit more.

    Does anybody have any links to the shooting schedule of the film? Is there anybody reading this message who worked on the film? Did the makers run out of colour film or could they only afford a certain amount of stock and from then looked at the screenplay and noted down which sequences would work better in black and white. The quality of the black and white film in the first chapel scene goes up and down in every shot which indicates the filmmakers were working with what they could afford. Nonetheless key elements of the film are in black and white:



    Meeting Christine Noonan in the coffee shop.

    Mary MacLeod walking naked in the dormitory whilst the teachers and pupils are out playing soldiers.

    The burgeoning of homosexual love in the gymnasium.

    Clearing out the junk and finding a jar with a fetus inside.



    What does anybody else think? Does anybody know the truth? If it is true that they ran out of colour film then I find it amazing that 'if....' doesn't look so haphazard. The changes to monochrome look quite deliberate.
    A short clip of "IF" was shown on "Cinema", many years ago. Im sure that the presenter. I think



    Mike Scott, said that the B/W scenes were shot when the funds started to dry up.



    So, not artistic, but financial.



    regards piroflip

  16. #16
    Administrator Country: Wales Steve Crook's Avatar
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    (piroflip2 @ Feb 2 2006, 08:44 AM)

    A short clip of "IF" was shown on "Cinema", many years ago. Im sure that the presenter. I think

    Mike Scott, said that the B/W scenes were shot when the funds started to dry up.

    So, not artistic, but financial.

    regards piroflip
    A trivia item for the film on the IMDb says ...

    Contrary to the story that says some scenes of the film are in B&W instead of colour because the production company was running short of money and saved money by having some scenes processed in monochrome, according to interviews with Malcolm McDowell, Lindsay Anderson and the cameraman, they first shot the scenes in the school chapel in monochrome because they had to use natural light that came in through the big stained-glass window, requiring high-speed film. The high-speed colour stock they tested was very grainy and the constantly-shifting colour values due to the angle of the light through the stained glass made it impossible to colour-correct, as well. So they decided to shoot those scenes in monochrome, and, when he saw the dailies, Anderson liked the way that it "broke up the surface of the film", and decided to insert other monochrome scenes more or less at random, to help disorient the viewer as the film slipped from realism to fantasy.



    Steve

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    (Steve Crook @ Feb 2 2006, 11:37 AM)

    A trivia item for the film on the IMDb says ...

    Contrary to the story that says some scenes of the film are in B&W instead of colour because the production company was running short of money and saved money by having some scenes processed in monochrome, according to interviews with Malcolm McDowell, Lindsay Anderson and the cameraman, they first shot the scenes in the school chapel in monochrome because they had to use natural light that came in through the big stained-glass window, requiring high-speed film. The high-speed colour stock they tested was very grainy and the constantly-shifting colour values due to the angle of the light through the stained glass made it impossible to colour-correct, as well. So they decided to shoot those scenes in monochrome, and, when he saw the dailies, Anderson liked the way that it "broke up the surface of the film", and decided to insert other monochrome scenes more or less at random, to help disorient the viewer as the film slipped from realism to fantasy.



    Steve
    Thanks Steve



    That seems to put the lid on this one



    regards piroflip

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