Kodachrome, they give us those nice bright colours
They give us the greens of summers
Makes you think all the worlds a sunny day, oh yeah
I got a nikon camera, I love to take a photograph
So mama dont take my kodachrome away
Alas, mama is going to take our Kodachrome away. At least that is what is being suggested in an article from AP, quoted in a number of net media. Kodak has gradually phased out most versions of the well known 35mm slide film, with the 64 ISO version being the only one remaining. But according to the article, no more of this last version will be produced, when current stocks have been sold. Kodak will neither deny nor affirm this. But Kodak has also closed all of its laboratories for the rather complicated Kodachrome processing. Only one independent laboratory is still operating in the US, and Kodachrome film from the entire world has to be send there for processing. Under these circumstances, it’s plausible that Kodachrome will not live much longer.
To me personally, Kodachrome evokes nostalgic memories of the pre-digital era. For those who are not photo-nerds, it might seem rather uninteresting, that a certain make of film disappears. But there was once, when Kodachrome was not just the niche-product that it is today.
Launched in 1936 (a movie film version was launched one year earlier) it was revolutionary: the world’s first mass-produced colour film. The processing was quite complicated, but the colours were stunning for its time.
A year later, German Agfa launched their own colour film, and for a short while there was some competition. But during WW2 it was the photographers of the victorious parties who also won the battle of our world view – and they were using Kodachrome. The cold war settled the situation even further.
In the fascinating book by Els Rijper: Kodachrome – the American invention of our world 1939-59 (New York, 2002), you will see how. The book contains a large number of colour photographs – not necessarily masterpieces, but the kind that filled the printed media: the ending of the world war, movie stars and pin-ups, sport, American cars and aeroplanes, the Korean War – and a young Elvis Presley.
All in bright colours – Makes you think all the worlds a sunny day...