Shortly before Bong Joon-Ho’s smash hit inequality thriller Parasite won Best Picture at the 2020 Oscars, the director screened a black-and-white version of his soon-to-be history-making film. He explained why at the International Film Festival in Rotterdam, where the cut premiered. With some of his characteristic wry wit, he said: “I think it may be vanity on my part, but when I think of the classics, they’re all in black and white. So I had this idea that if I turned my films into black and white, then they’d become classics.” Ultimul mercenar 2021 Online Subtitrat in Română
Maybe his theory explains why a time traveler from 1921, plopped down into a movie theater this year, would find plenty of baffling new experiences (reclining seats! surround sound!) but also might find themselves wondering why color movies never caught on. Many of these films look like Citizen Kane or Psycho or Casablanca or Seven Samurai — indisputable classics that we’re still watching decades later. What filmmaker wouldn’t want to be in that pantheon? Regele Richie 2021 Online Subtitrat in Română
Black and white — which never really went away — is huge at the movies this year. Conventional wisdom says that audiences are bored by black and white, but the 2021 offerings suggest that maybe the larger culture is finally ready to see this for what it is: an aesthetic choice, another tool in the filmmaker’s toolbox. Jolt 2021 Online Subtitrat in Română
Stumble into a theater right now, and you might catch Belfast, Kenneth Branagh’s drama about his childhood during the Troubles, filmed almost entirely in black and white save for a few brightly colored movie screens, a theater performance, and footage of contemporary Belfast at the very beginning. Or you could see C’mon C’mon, Mike Mills’s family drama starring Joaquin Phoenix, Gaby Hoffmann, and newcomer Woody Norman, a film that looks back at one family’s past to try to understand the future. În umbra santinelei 2021 Online Subtitrat in Română
Wes Anderson uses black and white for long stretches of The French Dispatch to pay homage to directors and filmmaking movements (such as the French New Wave) that primarily worked in monochrome; Aaron Sorkin’s upcoming film Being the Ricardos, about Lucy and Ricky Ricardo, uses black and white at times for similar purposes. The fully black-and-white drama Passing, which hits Netflix soon, leans on its visual language to tell a story about race and perception. And Joel Coen turned The Tragedy of Macbeth (out Christmas Day) into an eerie horror-spiked drama by borrowing visual language from filmmakers who worked primarily in grayscale, especially the German expressionism of the 1910s and ’20s. (Our hypothetical time-traveler would know the reference.) Чернобыль 2021 Online Subtitrat in Română
This year, documentaries like The Velvet Underground and The Sparks Brothers rely heavily on black-and-white footage to tell their stories. Malcolm & Marie, starring John David Washington and Zendaya, was shot all in black and white, aiming for a sleek and sophisticated vibe. Films like Gunda, a nearly silent documentary about a pig, or Faya Dayi, a trance-like documentary about the ritual plant khat, recast the way the audience looks at the natural world. El Planeta, a sharp debut comedy about a young woman and her mother pulling cons to survive in post-crisis Spain, has the air of a particularly bleak screwball comedy. Zonă mortală 2021 Online Subtitrat in Română
Working in black and white isn’t unique, of course. Plenty of filmmakers in the color-dominant era have chosen to work in black and white, from Martin Scorsese in Raging Bull (1980) to Steven Spielberg in Schindler’s List (1993) to the Coen brothers’ The Man Who Wasn’t There (2001). Just in the past decade, monochrome movies have been among critics’ most-lauded. The Artist was nominated for 10 Oscars in 2012 and won five of them, including Best Picture. Others followed, like Frances Ha, Ida, and Nebraska, all in 2013; A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night in 2014; Embrace of the Serpent in 2015; Cold War and Roma in 2018; The Lighthouse in 2019; and Mank and Time just last year. Confessions of an Invisible Girl 2021 Online Subtitrat in Română
And in recent years, blockbuster directors have hopped on the black-and-white train as a way to encourage audiences to rewatch the film with a new set of eyes. In 2017, George Miller released Mad Max: Fury Road — Black and Chrome; James Mangold did the same for Logan Noir. This year, after his supersized (and full-color) version of Justice League, Zack Snyder also released a black-and-white version, titled Zack Snyder’s Justice League: Justice Is Gray.
Despite all of these contemporary uses of black and white, audiences still tend to think of film history as being BC and AC — Before Color and After Color. It’s as though someone in Hollywood snapped their fingers and light flooded into the world, Wizard of Oz-style.
The Wizard of Oz indeed is notable for its early use of black and white and Technicolor to tell its story, way back in 1939. (Dorothy’s native Kansas is rendered in black and white, toned with sepia; when she gets to Oz, color floods in. Makes sense!) Keisuke Kinoshita’s 1958 film
In truth, color films were on the scene almost from the start. As with every aspect of film, from sound to streaming, the change happened in tandem with technological development. Early on, around the turn of the 20th century, color films were expensive, since using color in a film meant hand-tinting or stenciling every single frame.