Yesterday, I started reading Sylvia Plath’s “The Bell Jar.” In it, I have nit-picked a phrase or two about how much the narrator dislikes Technicolor. She classifies it as flashy and trying too hard. I disagree.
The first time I saw a technicolor movie was in high school. I took a class called “History of Film,” and the teacher, Mr. Birmingham, screened “Singin’ in the Rain” to our group of unreceptive football jocks and napping deadbeats. It wasn’t a life-altering experience but it was definitely significant.
Technicolor looks almost hyper-real, like eating too much sugar and getting sick. It’s the shade of neon pink that you wish your cotton candy could have been at the county fair when you were five. Debbie Reynold’s lips were two shiny red lollipops melted together in the August sun. It was a shade of lipstick I could never buy and would always want to attain.
Immediately after watching the movie, I wished I could be part of their Technicolor world and dance in fluid lime twisted fabric like Cyd Charisse. But sitting down to lunch that day, I realized that the reason I wanted to live in that world was because I thought it would make me happier to see Gene Kelly is a lemon yellow vest that could make your eyes pop out of your head.
But here’s the truth, if I had grown up in that world, I would have grown accustomed to the colors, the people, their shortcomings, their idiosyncrasies, and life would have been exactly the same.
In spite of how melancholy that sounds, I think of Technicolor very fondly, as I think most people do. Because when you’re 16 and life sucks, surrounded by sweaty pubescent boys, Technicolor can transport you for that 45-minute class period.