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When was the first color movie released?

A group of scientists and silent movie stars stepped out of a train car into the Florida sunlight to film America’s first feature-length color motion picture a century ago. On Sept. 13, 1917, the Technicolor production ‘The Gulf Between,’ a romantic comedy now considered a lost movie, opened.

However, it was a long way from lavishly colored classics such as 1939’s ‘Gone with the Wind’ and 1952’s ‘Singin’ in the Rain,’ which will forever be associated with Hollywood’s golden age. Instead, some critics panned the film for having too many red and green flashes, as well as random things that appeared too brightly.

According to Kelsey Eckert, a Technicolor project archivist at Rochester, New York’s George Eastman Museum, which houses some of the oldest surviving photographic and film artifacts, ‘The Gulf Between’ was meant to be a proof-of-concept. Anyone wanting to bring new technologies to the big screen should learn from the shortcomings of the first Technicolor film.


The Gulf Between, which lasted around 58 minutes and was both pricey and difficult to watch, was similar to today’s 3D films. In 1915, the three men established the Technicolor Motion Picture Corporation. The inventor was Comstock, the product developer was Wescott, and the businessman was Kalmus. The Technicolor team had to innovate from the film treatment to the camera and projector design to make a color film that didn’t have the fringing and flicker that plagued prior color systems.

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