Contemporary photo of a Galápagos tortoise (Chelonoidis nigra) on Santa Cruz Island
Bryony Dixon , John Oliver , Sue Woods , Josephine Botting , Patrick Russell , Lisa Kerrigan , Alex Davidson , Samuel Wigley
With a manic glint in his eye, Johnny Depp stars as the cross-dressing auteur, while Martin Landau plays Bela Lugosi, the washed-up horror star who finds a new home in Wood’s schlocky rubber-monstered fantasies. Burton returned to black and white for a full-length version of Frankenweenie in 2012, surely the world’s first monochrome 3D stop-motion animated film.
Even though color technology has existed for shooting movies since the late 1960s, some filmmakers choose to shoot their movies in black and white for either budget, aesthetical, or storytelling purposes. Movies like Schindler’s List, Paper Moon, and The Artist were all made when color was available but because the black and white makes viewers feel transported to a former time period. For some movies, like The Night of the Living Dead and Raging Bull, the lack of color makes the horror and violence seem even more frightening.
Haneke’s film offers no easy answers; instead, returning to his favourite themes of repression, guilt and denial, he mounts a claustrophobic sense of anxiety and insidious morality that draws a whole society into its whirlpool of culpability. Haneke’s regular cinematographer, Christian Berger, matches the Austrian auteur’s exacting gaze with crisp, gin-clear monochrome visuals.
This delightful comic fable begins in full colour in 1998, when an introverted, TV-watching teen, David (Tobey Maguire), and his sister Jennifer (Reece Witherspoon) are magically transported into reruns of a 1950s black-and-white sitcom called ‘Pleasantville’. Everything seems just so in this cookie-cutter small town, where family values rule, nothing ruffles the primped surface, and the firemen are mainly employed scaling trees to rescue little kittens.
Most computers had monochrome (black-and-white, black and green, or black and amber) screens until the late 1980s, although some home computers could be connected to television screens to eliminate the extra cost of a monitor. These took advantage of NTSC or PAL encoding to offer a range of colors from as low as 4 (IBM CGA) to 128 (Atari 800) to 4096 (Commodore Amiga). Early videogame consoles such as the Atari 2600 supported both black-and-white and color modes via a switch, as did some of the early home computers; this was to accommodate black-and-white TV sets, which would display a color signal poorly. (Typically a different shading scheme would be used for the display in the black-and-white mode.)
However, black-and-white photography has continued to be a popular medium for art photography, as shown in the picture by the well-known photographer Ansel Adams. This can take the form of black-and-white film or digital conversion to grayscale, with optional digital image editing manipulation to enhance the results. For amateur use certain companies such as Kodak manufactured black-and-white disposable cameras until 2009. Also, certain films are produced today which give black-and-white images using the ubiquitous C41 color process.
When you listen to the stark, desolate music of Joy Division it seems to be in portentous black and white, so it was apposite that, when he turned to a biopic of tragic frontman Ian Curtis for his directorial debut, photographer Anton Corbijn (who shot the band during his early career) would choose high-contrast monochrome – the better to capture the band’s post-punk shows in all their smoke-filled, strobe-lit intensity.
Filmed in black and white throughout, it begins in full sound in contemporary Lisbon, where Aurora, a glamorous octogenarian who knows she is dying, asks her neighbour to look up an old acquaintance from her time in Africa. In flashback, we are then told the tale of Aurora’s illicit love for an explorer at her farm at the foot of Mount Tabu. For this second half of the film, Gomes mimics the wordless drama of silent cinema, but includes the ambient sounds of the savannah, creating an original and utterly beguiling texture for his melancholic, hilarious and resolutely offbeat saga of past lives in the bush.
Black-and-white images are not usually starkly contrasted black and white. They combine black and white in a continuum producing a range of shades of gray. Further, many monochrome prints in still photography, especially those produced earlier in its development, were in sepia (mainly for archival stability), which yielded richer, subtler shading than reproductions in plain black-and-white.
In computing terminology, black-and-white is sometimes used to refer to a binary image consisting solely of pure black pixels and pure white pixels; what would normally be called a black-and-white image, that is, an image containing shades of gray, is referred to in this context as grayscale.
Reminiscent of Richard Linklater’s Before Sunrise (1995), it’s a talky, mumblecore romance that succeeds cinematically because of its glorious two-tone images of downtown LA. Though the City of Angels isn’t famous for its walkers, the couple’s street-level perambulations give Holdridge excuse to conduct a black-and-white love-letter to the gleam of the metropolis at night, mapping the lights, signs, marquees, amusement parks and rundown theatres that other films forget. Full of the offbeat quirks typical of current US indie cinema, Holdridge’s film nonetheless becomes unexpectedly affecting as this long night of two souls passes gently into the dawn.
French cinema of the 1980s and early 90s was defined by the extravagantly coloured, hyper-stylised and visually slick films of directors like Luc Besson and Léos Carax – originators of the so-called Cinéma du look.
Some formal photo portraits still use black-and-white. Many visual-art photographers use black-and-white in their work.
1 Media 1.1 Motion pictures 1.2 Television 1.3 Photography 1.4 Printing 2 Films with a color/black-and-white mix 3 Contemporary use 4 Computing 5 See also 6 References
McDonald Lake, Glacier National Park, Montana – Ansel Adams – Taken between 1933 and 1942
Frances Ha, the new film by Noah Baumbach (The Squid and the Whale), is the latest to ditch colour, channelling the free-and-loose spontaneity of the French New Wave for its story of a directionless 27-year-old dancer (played by Greta Gerwig) living in New York.
John Cassavetes, directorial debut follows the relationship between a mixed-race woman and a white man.
The history of various visual media has typically begun with black and white, and as technology improved, altered to color. However, there are exceptions to this rule, including black-and-white fine art photography and in motion pictures, many art films.
In fact, monochrome film stock is now rarely used at the time of shooting, even if the films are intended to be presented theatrically in black-and-white. Movies such as John Boorman’s The General (1998) and Joel Coen’s The Man Who Wasn’t There (2001) were filmed in color despite being presented in black-and-white for artistic reasons. Raging Bull (1980) and Clerks (1994) are two of the few well-known modern films deliberately shot in black-and-white. In the case of Clerks, because of the extremely low budget, the production team could not afford the added costs of shooting in color. Although the difference in film stock price would have been slight, the store’s fluorescent lights could not have been used to light for color. By shooting in black-and-white, the filmmakers did not have to rent lighting equipment.
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Starring Sam Riley as Curtis and Samantha Morton as his beleaguered wife Deborah (who co-wrote the screenplay based on her memoir Touching from a Distance), it charts the band’s rise to prominence in late 1970s Manchester, followed by Curtis’s increasingly fractious mental health and eventual suicide. Done with an unerring eye for period detail, it makes for blistering drama in which the visuals’ dynamic power and the pitch-perfect performances help to counter the underlying sadness. As critic Peter Bradshaw remarked in The Guardian: “Control is a film about England, about music, about loneliness and love; there is melancholy in it, but also a roar of energy. I thought it might depress me. Instead I left the cinema walking on air.”
Tim Burton made his first cinematic steps in black and white, with his two ghoulish stop-motion animated shorts Vincent (1982) and Frankenweenie (1984). By 1994, with the blockbuster successes of Batman (1989) and Edward Scissorhands (1990) behind him, he had enough commercial clout to embark on a feature-length monochrome production, a biopic of the bargain-basement exploitation filmmaker behind such infamous productions as Glen or Glenda (1953) and Plan 9 from Outer Space (1956): Edward D. Wood Jr.
Filtered through a nostalgia for a bygone era of filmmaking, the scratchy, antiqued visuals induce a heady, narcotic dream-vision of this eccentric outpost of humanity, essentially as morose as Tarr’s in Werckmeister Harmonies, but madcap and frenetic where the Hungarian’s is flinty and solemn.
The movie Pi is filmed entirely in black-and-white, with a grainy effect until the end.
Printing is an ancient art, and color printing has been possible in some ways from the time colored inks were produced. In the modern era, for financial and other practical reasons, black-and-white printing has been very common through the 20th century. However with the technology of the 21st century, home color printers, which can produce color photographs, are common and relatively inexpensive, a technology relatively unimaginable in the mid-20th century.
A bolt from the blue, Mathieu Kassovitz’s urban drama La Haine (literally, ‘Hate’) arrived in 1995, its sit-up-and-listen force amplified by its story of disaffected youth in the suburbs of Paris being filmed in steely monochrome. Inspired by a real-life case of police brutality, it introduced Vincent Cassel to the world, playing one of three rage-filled twentysomethings living in a multi-ethnic housing project. A corrective to the bourgeois, glamour-filled vision of life in the City of Light so commonly depicted in the cinema, Kassovitz’s searing youth film is a compelling slice of life. It dares to counter the image of ‘la vie en rose’ with a confrontational portrait of a society characterised by violence and racial segregation.
In a black and white pre-credits opening sequence in the 2006 Bond film, Casino Royale, a young James Bond (played by Daniel Craig) gains his licence to kill and status as a 00 agent by assassinating the traitorous MI6 section chief Dryden at the British Embassy in Prague, as well as his terrorist contact, Fisher, in a bathroom in Lahore. The remainder of the film starting with the opening credits is shown in color.
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Like time-travelling classic Back to the Future (1985), Gary Ross’s film plays on nostalgia for the good ol’ days of the 1950s, but cleverly subverts this backward-looking impulse by showing how this world of conservatism and small-mindedness is transformed by its visitors from the future. As David and Jennifer’s modernising influence is felt in the community, Pleasantville gradually introduces splashes of colour into its monochrome palette, a wonderfully cinematic ploy to prove that – where some things are concerned – time is never best standing still.
Where chess is concerned, who needs any colours but black and white? Director Andrew Bujalski shot his latest film – Computer Chess, the story of a 1980s chess contest between man and machine – on vintage analogue cameras, revelling in their grainy, retro aesthetic. But he’s no stranger to monochrome, following his 2002 debut Funny Ha Ha with this lo-fi story about the knotty lives of young New Yorkers.
Richard and his wife Maria seek solace from their disintegrating marriage in the arms of other lovers in John Cassavetes’s powerful 1968 feature.
Most American newspapers were black-and-white until the early 1980s; The New York Times and The Washington Post remained in black-and-white until the 1990s. Some claim that USA Today was the major impetus for the change to color. In the UK, color was only slowly introduced from the mid-1980s. Even today, many newspapers restrict color photographs to the front and other prominent pages since mass-producing photographs in black-and-white is considerably less expensive than color. Similarly, daily comic strips in newspapers were traditionally black-and-white with color reserved for Sunday strips.:Color printing is more expensive. Sometimes color is reserved for the cover. Magazines such as Jet magazine were either all or mostly black-and-white until the end of the 2000s when it became all-color. Manga (Japanese or Japanese-influenced comics) are typically published in black-and-white although now it is part of its image. Many school yearbooks are still entirely or mostly in black-and-white.
Guy Maddin is another modern director who’s made the majority of his films in black and white, all the better to replicate the flickering, shadowy world of the silent films and monochrome melodramas he loves so much. This 2003 film is set in wintry Winnipeg (Maddin’s hometown) at the end of the Prohibition, when beer-brewing baroness Helen Port-Huntley (Isabella Rossellini) announces a contest to find the saddest music in the world, which finds chanteuses and musical troupes from around the world competing in a kind of world cup of musical woe. The prize? 25,000 “Depression-era dollars”.
See also dr5 chrome List of black-and-white films produced since 1970 Monochromatic color Selective color References Look up black-and-white in Wiktionary, the free dictionary. Wikimedia Commons has media related to Black and white.
Though the first full three-colour Technicolor feature, Becky Sharp, arrived in 1935, it took several decades before colour completely overtook black and white in numbers, with colour initially being reserved for expensive prestige films, or westerns and musicals that were seen to benefit from the lustrous new technology.
Some modern film directors will occasionally shoot movies in black-and-white as an artistic choice, though it is much less common for a major Hollywood production. The use of black-and-white in the mass media often connotes something “nostalgic” or historic. The film director Woody Allen has used black-and-white a number of times since Manhattan (1979), which also had a George Gershwin derived score. The makers of The Good German (2006) used camera lens from the 1940s, and other equipment from that era, so that their black-and-white film imitated the look of early noir.
From Damnation (1988) via the seven-hour Sátántangó (1994) to his most recent film, The Turin Horse (2011), black and white has always been essential to the mood in the unique, apocalyptic universe of Hungarian maestro Béla Tarr.
When Billy Wilder’s The Apartment won the 1960 Oscar for best picture, no-one thought twice about it being in black and white. Even in the early 1960s, it was still often a case of either/or. But only two black-and-white films have ever won best picture since then: Steven Spielberg’s Schindler’s List (1993) and Michel Hazanavicius’s jubilant tribute to silent filmmaking, The Artist (2011). Sometime during the 1960s, black and white began to be associated with either artiness or cheapness.
Each of the recommendations included here is available to view in the UK.
Most early forms of motion pictures or film were black and white. Some color film processes, including hand coloring were experimented with, and in limited use, from the earliest days of motion pictures. The switch from most films being in black-and-white to most being in color was gradual, taking place from the 1930s to the 1960s. Even when most film studios had the capability to make color films, the technology’s popularity was limited, as using the Technicolor process was expensive and the process cumbersome. For many years, it was not possible for films in color to render realistic hues, thus its use was restricted to historical films or musicals until the 1950s, while many directors preferred to use black-and-white stock. For the years 1940–1966, a separate Academy Award for Best Art Direction was given for black-and-white movies along with one for color.
Period drama made with a scalpel, Michael Haneke’s Palme d’or-winning masterpiece is a subtly creepy lifting of the rock on an ostensibly peaceful Protestant village in rural Germany in the years before World War I. Beneath the calm surface, unexplained accidents are occurring to children, as if some of kind of organised punishment is being meted out to the community. But by whom? And what for?
The Wizard of Oz (1939) is in color when Dorothy is in Oz, but in black-and-white when she is in Kansas, although the latter scenes were actually in sepia when the film was originally released. The British film A Matter of Life and Death (1946) depicts the other world in black-and-white (a character says “one is starved of Technicolor … up there”), and earthly events in color. Similarly, Wim Wenders’s film Wings of Desire (1987) uses sepia-tone black-and-white for the scenes shot from the angels’ perspective. When Damiel, the angel (the film’s main character), becomes a human the film changes to color, emphasising his new “real life” view of the world.
Since the late 1960s, few mainstream films have been shot in black-and-white. The reasons are frequently commercial, as it is difficult to sell a film for television broadcasting if the film is not in color. 1961 was the last year in which the majority of Hollywood films were released in black and white.
In black-and-white still photography, many photographers choose to shoot in solely black-and-white since the stark contrasts enhance the subject matter.
Look around at the current crop of independent releases and everything’s in black and white. Ben Wheatley transported us back to the time of English civil war in painterly monochrome in A Field in England; Joss Whedon updated Much Ado about Nothing to a Southern California setting, tying Shakespeare to the Hollywood screwball tradition of the 1930s by filming in black and white; while Pablo Berger’s black-and-white Blancanieves is a Spanish neo-silent-melodrama version of the Snow White story.
French New Wave. Silent melodrama. Screwball comedy. Can the sudden surge of black-and-white filmmaking be down merely to an attempt to relive the glories of the cinematic past?
List of the best black and white movies ever made, as listed by movie critics and film fans from all over the world. From the time that movies were first being made until the late ’60s, black and white was the exclusive color of movies, since that was the only filming technology available. Although movies are now almost all shot in color, the old black and white movies feel classic, like there’s a higher quality to their storytelling.
Alex Holdridge won the 2008 Independent Spirit John Cassavetes Award for his charming feature debut about a down-on-his-luck 29-year-old, Wilson (Scoot McNairy), relocating to Los Angeles, only to find himself lonely and penniless as the celebrations of New Year’s Eve approach. Persuaded to post a personal ad, he encounters kooky Vivian (Sara Simmonds) and the pair stroll the city getting to know each other as the year plays out its last hours.
What are the best black and white movies of all time? This list features movies made in the ’20s to those made in the last few years, covering all types of genres. These movies are often ranked among the best of the best.
As a form of censorship when movies and TV series are aired on Philippine television, many gory scenes are shown in black-and-white. Sometimes the exposure of innards or other scenes too bloody or gruesome are also blurred, not just rendered in monochrome, in compliance with Philippine broadcasting standards.
Typical for films given the ‘mumblecore’ tag, the dialogue in Mutual Appreciation stops, starts, falters and fumbles, its nervy young metropolitan protagonists stammering their way to expressing their thoughts. In both sound and image, however, Bujalski’s film is even more rough and ready than those of his contemporaries, harking back to the John Cassavetes of Shadows (1959) and Faces (1968) with its high-contrast, handheld 16mm filming. The story rambles on with much of the same lack of direction shared by its characters; instead Bujalski lets their foibles and feelings do the talking.
The films Pleasantville (1998), and Aro Tolbukhin. En la mente del asesino (2002), play with the concept of black-and-white as an anachronism, using it to selectively portray scenes and characters who are either more or less outdated or duller than the characters and scenes shot in full-color. This manipulation of color is utilized in the film Sin City (2005) and the occasional television commercial. The film American History X (1998) is told in a nonlinear narrative in which the portions of the plot that take place “in the past” are shown entirely in black and white, while the “present” storyline’s scenes are displayed in color. In the documentary film Night and Fog (1955) a mix of black-and-white documentary footage is contrasted with color film of the present.
Throughout the 19th century, most photography was monochrome photography: images were either black-and-white or shades of sepia. Occasionally personal and/or commercial photographs might be hand tinted. Color photography was originally rare and expensive and again often containing inaccurate hues. Color photography became more common from the mid-20th century.
Black and white, often abbreviated B/W or B&W, and hyphenated black-and-white when used as an adjective, is any of several monochrome forms in visual arts.
Starting with an impromptu barroom demonstration of the movement of celestial bodies (one of the all-time great movie openings), this deeply mysterious film hinges on the events occurring in a remote community after a circus of attractions brings the body of a whale into town. Composed in Tarr’s trademark, hypnotically slow-moving tracking shots, Werckmeister Harmonies is a bleak yet bewitchingly atmospheric vision of life at the end of its tether, such as no one else but Tarr could have made. Coming after Pleasantville on this list, it’s fun to imagine what teens David and Jennifer would have made of this languorous world of anomie and dread, had their TV transported them instead to this bitterly cold outpost on the Hungarian plains.
The earliest television broadcasts were transmitted in black-and-white, and received and displayed by black-and-white only television sets. Scottish inventor John Logie Baird demonstrated the world’s first color television transmission on July 3, 1928 using a mechanical process. Some color broadcasts in the U.S. began in the 1950s, with color becoming common in western industrialized nations during the late 1960s. In the United States, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) settled on a color NTSC standard in 1953, and the NBC network began broadcasting a limited color television schedule in January 1954. Color television became more widespread in the U.S. between 1963 and 1967, when major networks like CBS and ABC joined NBC in broadcasting full color schedules. Some TV stations (small and medium) in the US were still broadcasting in B&W until the late 80s to early 90s, depending on network. Canada began airing color television in 1966 while the United Kingdom began to use an entirely different color system from July 1967 known as PAL. The Republic of Ireland followed in 1970. New Zealand began color broadcasting in 1973, and Australia experimented with color television in 1967 but continued to broadcast in black-and-white until 1975, and New Zealand experimented with color broadcasting in 1973 but didn’t convert until 1975. In China, black-and-white television sets were the norm until as late as the 1990s, color TVs not outselling them until about 1989. In 1969, Japanese electronics manufacturers standardized the first format for industrial/non-broadcast videotape recorders (VTRs) called EIAJ-1, which initially offered only black-and-white video recording and playback. While seldom used professionally now, many consumer camcorders have the ability to record in black-and-white.
Still, there has been a steady stream of truly great black-and-white movies since then. The tap is currently running on full, but there’s never less than a trickle. Presented below are 10 of the very best from the past 20 years, in the time since Schindler’s List broke the best-picture monochrome moratorium in 1994.
Just as The Artist returned us to the age of silent filmmaking with its loving tribute to the coming of sound in Hollywood, Miguel Gomes’s one-of-a-kind fantasia Tabu riffs on F.W. Murnau’s late-silent-era tropical island romance Tabu: A Story of the South Seas (1931) for a story of unrequited love in colonial Africa.