CineSavant Column

Saturday March 30, 2024



An interesting filmic discovery this week at Wellesnet. How this 9 minutes of film came about is a little complicated, but CineSavant advisor Gary Teetzel manages a conscise description:

“Here’s some color footage from a production of Twelfth Night that Orson Welles directed at age 17 at the Todd School for Boys. He doesn’t act in the play, but he directed it and designed the set and costumes. His voice is heard providing an introduction.”

The interesting article was written by Ray Kelly. Welles presumably did not direct any of this home movie-style footage. The transfer does everything it can to prevent piracy, including formatting the reel wide-screen, chopping off the top and bottom of every shot:

Orson Welles’ Twelfth Night


And Joe Dante circulated without comment a link to another short AI film made with Sora,: Sora AI Film Series 1.

Most of the viewer comments are very positive. My first thought is that I’d like to see the text prompts (?) or script (?) or whatever that this started with.

I’d hate to think a computer program could be told, ‘make a brilliant montage using copyrighted clips,’ and then be instructed to ‘alter the clips enough to obscure their source and avoid infringement lawsuits.’  Or is that the fundamental premise behind the development of these AI tools?

When CGI came in, I wrongly thought some movies might carry a proud text disclaimer, saying ‘no digital effects, just camera art.’ Visuals By Committee are bad enough, but Visuals By AI is too much. Is it Art Made By Nobody, but Stolen From Everybody?   The link:

Air Head for Shy Kids


And since CineSavant falls for most everything having to do with Fritz Lang’s Metropolis, we were curious when our Facebook feed — which normally siphons peep show videos and links to articles behind firewalls — sent us to a Netflix presentation that ‘enhances and colorizes’ the classic sci-fi epic.

The colorization appears done more for mood than realism — it’s more like a tinting pass … a rather odd tinting pass. Colors shift and drift and little blasts of red pop in, while faces stay fairly consistent. I noted that some swift pans change the overall color bluish for a moment. With all the colorization fireworks, the recovered Argentinian footage is less distracting, I must say.

Enhancing accessibility to vintage films without completely mutilating them has to be seen as something positive… even Giorgio Moroder’s disco revision can be lauded for Keeping the Torch lit for Metropolis. Soon to be 100 years old, the movie still captures our imaginations. As Aitam Bar-Sagi might say, anything that promotes this Astounding picture is good. Next stop, 3-D conversion?

I suppose this video tranformation was created via AI and a couple of descriptive prompts?  I did not find this on my Netflix account, but the web link is:

Metropolis (1927) Enhanced and Colorized

Thanks for reading! — Glenn Erickson