Colour Poems (1974)
Can 40: Colour master positive, Comopt, 16mm, 408ft, 1974.
Can 41: Colour positive print, Comopt, 16mm, 408ft, 1974.
Can 42: Colour positive print, Comopt, 16mm, 408ft, 1974.
Can 43: Positive optical soundtrack, 16mm, 396ft, 1974.
Can 44: Original hand-coloured master negative, 16mm, 396ft, 1974.
Can 45: Hand-coloured workprint, 16mm, 391ft, 1974.
Can 46: A&B roll Sepmag sound tracks, 16mm, 409ft, 1974.
Summary of Film Elements and Condition
Can 40 The master positive printed from #44 is in fair condition. The Technical Records note that scratches and splices on the original negative have printed through. The film is a mixture of live action and selections from Numen of The Boughs. Much of this is in the first ‘poem’: 28 seconds of Numen, followed by a short sequence of live action which then returns to Numen until 65ft. The latter part of the poem (65-81ft) is live action. The next animated sequence is in the fifth poem, ‘Incense’ (196ft) and again, similar scratched drawings are interspersed with live action. There is a short colour, painted sequence until 229ft. In all, there are six sequences of hand-drawn/painted material totalling 82ft. There appears to be no fungus.
Can 41 The SFTVA have determined this to be the best print of Colour Poems. It is a direct print from the negative #44.
Can 42 A print from the negative #44. The film appears to have shrunk and the sound is poor compared to #40 and #41. No fungus apparent.
Can 43 Original positive optical soundtrack with fungus.
Can 44 The original hand-painted colour negative. Tait has hand-coloured over negative sections from Numen most often with red and green and obviously the opposite colours were achieved in the positive prints #40, #41, #42 (red appearing as green and green appearing as pink). Section 19-65ft is without colour but dye can be seen under the tape splices which suggests that Tait changed her mind while painting the film and removed the dye from the negative. Two short title sequences are on black and white stock. The film has shrunk and the numerous tape splices are sticky. As can be seen in the prints, there are scratches and some tramlines throughout. The film has fungus and the emulsion is cracking. The Numen sections may have been printed from the dupe-positives #50. Finally, a label on the can reads: ‘DO NOT WET CLEAN OR PUT ON WET GATE PRINTER’.
Can 45 Although this is a workprint, there are hand-painted sections unique to it. Some of the dyes have been applied to the base side of the film and are particularly fragile and vulnerable. There are also white Chinagraph markings with technical instructions. There is fungus and the emulsion is cracking. The can is heavily rusted both inside and out and the label identifies the film as a ‘CUTTING PRINT/DUBBING PRINT’.
Can 46 Two magnetic sound tracks. There are tape joins which are sticky though no fungus is apparent. A hand-drawn dubbing sheet is included in the can and the label identifies the can’s contents as ‘TRACK A TRACK B 16MM MAGENTIC EDGE TRACKS’.
Notes For The Preservation of Colour Poems
Both the label on can #44 stating that the film should not be cleaned nor wet-gate printed and the remains of dye under tape splices suggests that Tait continued to use the water-soluble ‘medical dyes’ she had used for her previous films. I would therefore recommend the same tests for the elements of Colour Poems as for previous films. Tape joins on #46 could be replaced and a new optical soundtrack should be struck. The dubbing chart and Chinagraph marks on the magnetic tracks would assist in a reliable restoration of the sound. Caution should be taken not to ‘clean up’ the sound beyond what it originally was. Tait worked with simple equipment and the sound is generally quite poor by today’s standards.