I was watching ScreenJunkies (per usual) and discovered a recent Movie Fights topic that took me into the deepest cinephile thoughts I’ve had since I first watched Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho and that was on the topic of “Which films would be cool in black and white?”, but then it occurred to me that film makers are not showcasing black and white films like they once did. Director George Miller recently stated that could potentially be returning to theaters in black and white, but my gut reaction didn’t think that a kinetic and warmth inducing film such as this was the right choice for black and white, but what could work?
We’ve seen remarkable films of the past showcase great storytelling with a black and white aesthetic that reminds us of old Hollywood or classic film making, but it makes you wonder why directors, old or young, haven’t gone out of their way to make a smaller (or larger film in a Spielberg’s case) to make another great black and white movie. We’ve seen modern black and whites get positive feedback from critics and fans whether they made money or not. 2011’s The Artist is an example of fans and critics enjoying a black and white and Sin City proved to be all the above financially, critically, and with fans, but why no more black and whites? Well, it begins and ends with money.
For whatever reason, people who claim to enjoy movies don’t always grasp the brilliance of storytelling through a muted color pallet and have become spoiled (not their faults of course) by seeing such vibrant coloration in film. Some of the most beautiful films have been shaped and designed with an intent of showcasing bold and extravagant color visuals which makes black and white look either boring or uninteresting, and that’s almost unfair. Genres of films lend themselves to becoming experiences not many millennials can get a chance of seeing in the modern era. Genres like horror movies or crime noirs or classic romantic comedies similar to the Manhattan era of Woody Allen’s career, but who is to say any genre can’t make a quality black and white film.
With such experimental film makers out there in the indie circuit, I’m shocked either those coming up in the film making game or veterans haven’t gone back to the well of black and white films. Arguably one of Scorsese’s greatest films is a black and white masterpiece while Kevin Smith made his career off of a small black and white story – literally and figuratively – that launched him to where he is now. As daring as film has become, there is an absence of style of film making that could showcase movies in their best light. A way to possibly bring back the black and white film is an option George Miller has given us and that is producing a colorless version of the original films at hand, but it has to be for the right films and a job worth doing for the cinematographers.
What do you think about this lack of a trend? Should it come back or should it stay as an occasional pleasure for film goers?