Regular readers will have noticed that things have been pretty quiet around Silents, Please! for the last year or so. Partly, this was because I channelled a lot of energy into researching, writing and drawing my Feminist Media Histories article: a very absorbing process, about which I’ll write more soon. Another reason was because I was putting a lot of energy into writing code rather than writing about film.
On occasion, these hobbies have intersected. Some months ago, I wrote a Bash/Python script that generates a rainbow grid from a film: it takes regular frame grabs from a video file, determines the dominant colour per image, then outputs a mosaic of images ordered by hue. Of course, I had silent film on my mind as I wrote the script – what better way to showcase the vibrant colours of this era? I revisited my code recently; so, it seems like a good time to present a few of my favourite outputs from the program. Enjoy! (And you can click on each picture to view the full-size image).
The Blue Bird (US 1918) lives up to its picturesque reputation:
Der Student von Prag | The Student of Prague (DE 1913), with Paul Wegener in the title role, is an excellent film that also scores highly in the rainbow stakes.
A range of jewel tones from L’Homme du large | The Man of the Open Sea (FR 1920):
Eye-popping brightness from Filibus (IT 1915); a wonderful film that I’ve written about here.
Some films had a more limited palette that still produced a pleasing effect.
For example, check out this mosaic of Vittoria o morte! | Victory or Death! (IT 1913):
And the output of the remaining parts of Homunculus (DE 1916):
Striking imagery and colourisation in Das Blumenwunder | The Miracle of Flowers (DE 1926):
Some serious style for Die schwarze Kugel oder Die geheimnisvollen Schwestern | The Black Ball; or, The Mysterious Sisters (DE 1913).
Okay, one more for luck. From Spain, here’s Margarita Xirgu vehicle El beso de la muerte | The Kiss of Death (ES 1916):
Those interested can find my code here.