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Scottish Screen Archive: recovery of early amateur colour film

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7 October 2010

Unesco World  Audio Visual Heritage Day: Recovery of early amateur colour film

Scottish Screen Archive is pleased to publish  its latest digitally restored film – the Cunard liner  ‘Queen Mary’ leaving the River Clyde after fitting out, in  March 1936.  Shot by amateur film maker James Blair on the new 16mm Kodachrome colour film stock, supplies of which had just arrived in Glasgow that month.

This early colour film was very expensive and coupled with the scarcity of supply  it is not surprising that  the surviving sequences of colour film of this national event are quite short. SSA holds three sequences all shot on Kodachrome A - the first batch of colour stock manufactured and, it turned out, prone to fading. The colour dyes faded badly to a strong cherry colour – magenta. Added to the mix the quality of the original camerawork- the film makers  had  teething troubles, problems in selecting the correct lighting exposures for this new coloured cinephotography. 

The SSA has been working on restoring some of that original colour, to present what we believe to be very rare images of the liner in colour, prior to her going into wartime grey at the start of the Second World War. Work on the first of these three sequences is now complete. 

The film can be viewed on the Archive website  from 27 October 2010.

Further information

Please contact: Janet McBain
Browse the catalogue online at