Behind the Scenes of One of the Most Unique Movies of the 90s

"Pleasantville" might be one of the most unique movies of the 90s, but giving it its fascinating look was no small task. This fantastic video goes behind the scenes of making the film. 

If you have not seen "Pleasantville" before, I will not ruin it for you, but the basic premise is that a modern brother and sister are magically transported into the black and white world of an overly idealistic 1950s television show, where different people and objects begin to turn full color as they discover, grapple with, and embrace the realities of actual life. It is one of the rare and impressive uses of selective color in film. As such, the majority of the movie is partially in black and white, partially in color, and as you might imagine, it was a tremendously tedious task to desaturate only parts of the frame across the film (which totaled approximately 163,000 frames), particularly in 1998, when computers were far less powerful than they were today (in fact, they only worked on the film in 2K). Still, the results seem to have been worth it, as the film holds an 85% rating on Rotten Tomatoes and is generally regarded quite highly. Check out the video above to go behind the scenes (and give the film a watch if you haven't seen it)!

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6 Comments

Rod Kestel's picture

Sorry to be a pedant, but a thing is either unique or it is not. Like saying 'most dead' or 'most zero'.

Alex Cooke's picture

Actually, "unique" can take a qualifier (see definition three): https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/unique

Rod Kestel's picture

Curses, hit by a reference. However yours is not a unique source. Chew on this one, a more true definition https://www.thefreedictionary.com/unique.

BTW a very good video.

Kevin McLin's picture

I almost replied to this in exactly the same way... I guess I'm not uniquely pedentic, eh? And clearly, since I refrained, I am not the most pedantic, either.

This usage is one of my pet peeves. If you mean "most unusual," "more unusual," etc. then why not just say that? If something is unique it is not unusual, it is one of a kind. There are not degrees of one of a kind. Yes, I know. Languages evolve, usages change. This happens in part because people misuse language.

And while we are at this, can we stop misusing exponential? Things are not exponentially large. Nor are they exponentially small. Exponential is to do with a rate of change, not a size. Have a look in a calculus book. it's all explained in there.

Okay, gratuitous pedantry and peeveyness (yeah, I know, that is not a word) over.

Back to photography...

Do you know how to catch a unique rabbit?

Unique up on it.

For me the important take away was the difference between lighting for color vs. black and white photography. I shot black and white film all through college. Other photographers who learned that way can have a distinct lighting style.