Before and After Science


Here are clips from the film I had wanted to show on Tuesday, a cinematic adaptation of Shakespeare’s The Tempest, directed in the style of the great Venetian colorist painters. The book in the age of Galileo, a last burst of color before the rise of the black-and-white Cartesian diagram. This film, which owes much to the sensibility of Oscar Wilde, is super-saturated with every sort of color, visual and otherwise. No doubt, it will prove entirely too lush, too decadent for some persons.


Before forming its atmosphere and its oceans, the Earth must have resembled a gray ball revolving in space. As the Moon does now; where the ultraviolet rays radiated by the Sun arrive directly, all colors are destroyed, which is why the cliffs of the lunar surface, instead of being colored like Earth’s, are of a dead, uniform gray. If the Earth displays a varicolored countenance, it is thanks to the atmosphere, which filters that murderous light.

–Italo Calvino, “Before Colors”

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