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USA, 1935 (MIFF 1986, Retrospectives)

Director: Rouben Mamoulian

BECKY SHARP, directed by Rouben Mamoulian, was the first feature film shot in full colour, that is, in three-strip Technicolor. Loosely based on William Thackeray's VANITY FAIR. BECKY SHARP was hailed as "a momentous event... a gallant and distinguished outpost in an almost unchartered domain".

Such acclaim aside, the film quickly sank into obscurity. By I943 original nitrate prints of BECKY SHARP were unavailable. The film was reissued in 16mm which used the inferior two colour Cinecolour process. 35mm prints were also reissued, however they had had 18 minutes cut from the original 84 minutes running time. By the time prints were made available to television in I958, only a black and white, I6mm cut version remained.

Robert Gitt from UCLA Film Archives and Richard Dayton of YCM Laboratory, undertook to restore the film. This work was complicated because the three-strip Technicolor process yields three separate negatives lone for each colour) and a soundtrack. A full set of negatives for only 40 minutes of the film could be found. Three years later, restored to its original beauty. BECKY SHARP can now stand alongside other major archival restoration projects . . . NAPOLEON and the 1954 version of A STAR IS BORN.

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