Talking Stone Film

Film Reviews & Headlines

do you or someone you know scoff at the very thought of watching a black-and-white movie your eyes roll into the back of your head accompanied by an AA sound when you realize there isn’t any color don’t worry you’re not alone even Spielberg’s kids have complained about it what’s true is the first knee-jerk reaction of my children is they don’t want to see a black-and-white movie but then I say you’re gonna have to you’re just going to have to and I promise you ten minutes into the picture they don’t know whether it’s black and white or color they’re into the movie and by and large when they like the movie when it’s over they’re raving about it I presume this is a common sentiment echoed by a younger generation of viewers who don’t want to give black and white a change assuming that these films are old unrealistic and boring but for me there are so many things filmmakers can do with black and white and that the removal of color can actually be a tool to highlight and emphasize other aspects of the story as such filmmakers have shown us some pretty incredible things things that you may not have noticed otherwise things that define the very essence of cinema and invite you to escape into new worlds see things in new ways and allow your imagination to fill in the blanks this video will explore how filmmakers abused black and white to the stories advantage and hopefully give you a newfound or maybe just confirm your appreciation of the unique sights and possibilities of black and white okay first I just want to be clear that I’m not suggesting that black and white is better than color or vice-versa because both are a tool but since that comparison is naturally going to be made allow me to briefly provide some context it’s worth mentioning that the use of color in film is just about as old as film itself and even when it was difficult filmmakers found ways to get color into their films in the earliest days of cinema if a filmmaker wanted their movie to be in color they’d have to painstakingly paint each frame of film by hand sometimes this was used to simply add visual interest to the image other times it directly highlighted elements integral to the story like making a puff of smoke seem extra magical Wow then around 1910 films were tinted ad divest to add a specific mood to a scene for example it wasn’t uncommon for a nighttime scene to be tinted blue to give it that moonlight feel oh it’s so romantic two-tone Technicolor had come around by the twenties and during this time a black and white film might suddenly switch to a two-tone scene and then back to black and white like in Phantom of the Opera now the two-toned Technicolor provided a much-improved yet still limited color palette that was until the 30s when three-strip Technicolor was able to capture all three primary colors so if you add the time or you could afford it color has always been an option while people were developing color other filmmakers were discovering the unique qualities of black and white an entire film style developed from their findings let’s explore some of these and learn how black and white brought unique storytelling and needs on sand to filmmaking let’s begin with German Expressionism German Expressionism began in and around the time of the First World War and was a huge cultural influence on filmmakers for its notably abstract sets and its high contrast lighting they understood that sync the image lacked color our brains naturally picked out shapes within the frame by embracing that concept and exaggerating it the image began to take on a life of its own an influence on American cinema really began to take off during the time of the Great Depression predominantly within the horror genre and soon after that high contrast lighting continued to evolve ultimately giving us a style that became known as film you are film noir was a moody atmospheric aesthetic that was often associated with crime dramas with the forties and fifties you still I stand up as fast as you know how films full of morally ambiguous conundrums blurring the lines between right and wrong what’s really interesting about film noir and why it works so well is that the themes commonly found in these films are enhanced by the stark black-and-white imagery by removing color from the equation characters can exist in the world where light it’s constantly conflicting with darkness these themes are literally represented in the contrast of the image itself not only does this visual aesthetic tie into matically with these stories it also technically pushed cinema forward because filmmakers had to find creative ways to create texture separation contrast and depth using the palette available to them light and shadow and this doesn’t just apply to film noir black and white films can visually communicate the most basic elements of a story such as clearly defining who’s the hero and who’s the villain filmmakers have used black and white to set the stage for characters who are in conflict with others as well as characters who are in conflict with themselves are hating and I love okay that’s a lot okay so moving on one of my favorite things about black and white is the fact that it doesn’t look real and heck if you don’t believe me just listen to Frank Darabont that to me is what makes black and white so very cool no it doesn’t look real film itself isn’t real it’s a heightened reality to manipulating light through a lens you know to create a heightened recreation of reality but to me black and white takes that even one step further it gives you a view of the world that really doesn’t exist in reality and the only place you can see that representation of the world using a blanket by being one step removed from real life black-and-white films are also able to take on a very unique dreamlike quality hypnotic effect can make for some truly breathtaking sequences let alone entire films and that tone can easily shift a dream into a nightmare this surreal aesthetic can represent a character skewed perception of the world characters descending into madness paranoia and obsession it can create a bizarre atmosphere and set a distinctly bleak powerful and inescapable tone [Music] and this Frank Darabont said that unique view of the world is what makes it so special still with me okay what’s also amazing about black and white is it can actually be used for the exact opposite reason it can make film feel more real take the film the Elephant Man from 1980 it’s a tragic true story of Joseph Merrick a severely deformed man who is exploited in sideshows at the turn of the 20th century Exhibit A grades everybody receives as well as the poor creature himself he is a pink it’s dark monochromatic photography is strangely authentic to the time period it’s representing because it captures the essence of historical photos taken during that time John Hurt’s performance is so incredibly moving that by the end it’s almost as though you’ve watched a documentary on the man the same can be said for other historically authentic films such as good night and good luck and Schindler’s List all these films could have been shot in color but the decision was made to present these stories in this format because it harkens back to their respective eras and the result is powerful to say the least [Music] in fact black and white can be so good at evoking reality that it can make even the most out-of-this-world stories feel true for example look no further than Godzilla on the surface it can be written off as a cheesy Japanese monster movie yet it’s black and white aesthetic mirrors the devastating destruction the world witness following the attacks on Hiroshima and Nagasaki as an audience watching this film in black and white transports us back to those horrifying newsreels of destruction and death the film’s themes of war nuclear fallout radiation mutation pain and suffering manifest themselves in the form of godzilla who can literally be seen as a metaphor for the atomic bomb [Music] watching the original version of this film in black and white allows this fantastical monster to take on a horrific feeling of reality while still allowing the otherworldly nature of Godzilla to exist black and white allows these science-fiction stories to exist in another dimension that mirrors our own which is important because ultimately art is an expression of our reality not necessarily a reproduction of it so whether it’s real or imaginary black and white can set a unique and powerful tone in more ways than one to explore how black and white can truly provide a unique experience we are lucky enough that some filmmakers have provided different versions of their films so you can see for yourself the impact black and white has on the overall story George Miller had always wanted to release Mad Max fury road in black and white and while it’s incredibly beautiful desaturating the film does have its trade-offs so here we are with a black and white version of the movie some scenes in particular play a lot better and some there’s some information that we got from the color that are missing but overall to me it’s the best version of the movie by removing color the first piece of information that’s lost is its inability to clearly establish the world this is a wasteland and one of the most visually defining characteristics of the citadel is the lush green vegetation high above and oppressed starving population below this as well as its constant references to the green place suddenly make the characters quest needlessly comedic come to the green page this green place the green play that being said the sandstorm sequence is breathtaking and I encourage you all to go check it out if there’s a single movie out there that can get you to appreciate how black and white can elevate the story it’s the black and white version of the mist consider everything we’ve discussed rolled up into one incredible viewing experience it taps into that dream like unreal aesthetic that perfectly sets the stage for a monster movie ah black and white also amplifies and simplifies the basic themes of religion good versus evil and it inverts the primal fear of the dark meaning we’re pretty used to seeing characters disappearing into darkness however here we actually see characters being gulped by white oh that’s so cool black and white being what it is allows for any imperfections in the monsters to be much more forgivable basically what I’m saying is the CG monsters just look better in black and white because there’s less detail there for you to focus on lastly there are some classic films such as Casablanca and Night of the Living Dead many many others that have been re-released in color from the original black and white negative personally I believe that these color versions of the film are not as good as the original just based on the fact alone that these films were never intended to be presented in color just something about it feels wrong it’s almost as though someone is artificially coloring in a coloring book who says that that’s the color of the wallpaper maybe that car was blue I don’t know you’re only seeing someone’s interpretation of what that color is if a film was intentionally shot in black and white I think it should remain in black and white even still colorized versions of these films keep getting released so you can decide for yourself ok that wasn’t so bad right could be what how could be raining I hope by now you can see how versatile and powerful black and white can truly be and why filmmakers have used it and continue to use it to this day as a storytelling tool it’s important to keep an open mind because black and white films have made audiences laugh and scream and cry for over a hundred years and they can still inspire us today if we approach them with open hearts and open eyes now I’ll leave you with a final thought from director Martin Scorsese thanks for watching one has to begin to I think reach younger people at an earlier age to shape their minds in a critical way a critical way of looking at these images and what they mean and how to interpret imagery you need to know how ideas and emotions are expressed through a visual form this is why it’s so important I think because so much of today’s society has done visually what you’re doing is training the eye and the heart of the student to look at a film in a different way by asking questions and pointing to different ideas different concepts you’re training them to think about a story that’s told to you in visual terms in a different way [Music] Oh [Music] hey everyone we realize that’s a lot of information there’s also a lot of other great films that we haven’t even discussed so let us know what you think and feel free to share some of your favorite black-and-white films in the comments below and we’ll see you next month okay bye you still there

100 thoughts on “So You Don’t Want to Watch a Black & White Movie?

  1. Even a mix can be especially powerful, like Park Chan-wok's "Fade to Black and White" version of Lady Vengeance.

  2. WOW! What a thoughtful, articulate and wonderful thought piece on a much under appreciated aspect of film. THANK YOU!

  3. The film that made me enjoy black and white was the cabinet of dr caligari it also made me enjoy silent films a lot more

  4. i easily watch old bw

    fresh bws are just retrograde filmmaking conservatives membering glory days when grass was tall trees greener and no bad movies ever made
    except no
    just like chaplin hated sound movies but couldn't resist filling his stuff with a ton of dialogue cards unlike keaton

    schindler was not improved by being bw
    bw just allowed to make super cheap pretentious points without (hello потёмкин) actually using visual language and doing effort
    >>historically authentic

     >>thing you might have no notice otherwise
    that's what
    it's hard to emphasise certain things in colour without them looking wrong
    so let's just use cheap way instant win button

  5. Nothing frustrates me more than people who wont watch B&W films! The art of light is on full display in B&W films!

  6. I will watch a movie that was made before colour was widely available that's different I can understand that. But if you think bw is edgy or cool to put on a modern movie, then we're not on the same page.

    Nope, no thanks. BW is not a story telling device. If your story is great it would be great in color too. If it sucks it sucks in BW too. So no, thanks I'm not interested in your BW movie made after 1960s.

  7. Invaluable video, 10/10, currently working on a project and i was on the fence about whether to make it black and white or not, this video along with the examples gave me my answer and some great references! cheers.

  8. I am from the boo black and white generation, but even we are now an old breed. A new breed raised on smartphones and constant wi fi now find even colour films from the 90s boring, what they have been fed is instant communication, so the cuts must be stupidly fast, the stories as realistic as possible and if not, as flashy as possible. A dialogue scene from the 90s action adventure The Mummy, for example I found was criticized as being boring, and so the film boring by this generation.

  9. My five-year old sister's answer to the question, why she wouldn't see a black and white movie was: "because colours are beautiful".

  10. If the first movies you watched had to be watched with only one eye, but years later they realized two eyes make the movie better. Just because someone has some nostalgic feeling towards something they had to do because society lacked knowledge or technology doesn't mean it's a better way to experience something.
    Black and white movies do not work with my brain. My autism stops me from caring whatsoever because of the huge disconnect. I'm very much a visual learner, so if I can't see it well enough I simply don't care.

  11. "In TEH grahl"?? "Fill in the blanks"?? What "blanks"??? This guy is just reading someone else's script. Some corp is producing these for ad bucks.

  12. 10:24 there is always a way to visually tell a story

  13. Turning a color film into black and white is the wrong way to go about making a black and white film. Take any movie that has been colorized. Compare it shot for shot, the original B&W with a colorized version desaturated to B&W. The colorized B&W will look more like a muddled grey, where the original B&W will have contrast and stark images.

    A visually stunning black and white film needs to be filmed in black and white, it is a very different process to light to best effect.

  14. Absolutely love b/w. Glad to say I've seen and recognize most of the films shown in clips here, but Sátántangó was new to me, and the clip (13:03) really made me want to see the movie.

  15. B&W Best Picture Oscar:

    The Artist (2011)
    Schindler's List (1993)
    The Apartment (1960)
    Marty (1955)
    On the Waterfront (1954)
    From Here to Eternity (1953)
    All About Eve (1950)
    All the King's Men (1949)
    Hamlet (1948)
    Gentleman's Agreement (1947)
    The Best Years of Our Lives (1946)
    The Lost Weekend (1945)
    Going My Way (1944)
    Casablanca (1943)
    Mrs. Miniver (1942)
    How Green Was My Valley (1941)
    Rebecca (1940)
    You Can't Take It with You (1938)
    The Life of Emile Zola (1937)
    The Great Ziegfeld (1936)
    Mutiny on the Bounty (1935)
    It Happened One Night (1934)
    Cavalcade (1933)
    Grand Hotel (1932)
    Cimarron (1931)
    All Quiet on the Western Front (1930)
    The Broadway Melody (1929)
    Wings (1927)

  16. man, did this take more than a month to make? Actually, I have no idea how lone this would take. Marriage of B-roll to VO is amazing.

  17. This is a shame that lots of young people don't like older movies and my younger brother's was watching silent movies when they were 6 years old and now they're 10 the reasons of which people don't care for older movies has never been really made sense to me watch A Star is Born then 1937 version

  18. I go to art school and it is surprising how many people in the film/animation majors won't watch old movies. I know a couple of people who refuse to watch any movie that was released before the 2000s. It is super confusing.

  19. I don't want new movies made in black and white. It's like recording with a flat non moving camera or a single shot unedited movie.

    That's nice, but that doesn't add anything if your doing it just because. You're basically playing with less tools.

  20. I love all movies, I used to not want to watch movies that wernt in English like Italian France Greek and so on but you will miss a whole lot of great masterpieces if you in that movie bubble

  21. Wait, there are actually people who write off black and white films just because they're black and white? Really?

  22. This is probably my favourite channel ever! So well done, you can definitely learn a lot about film making watching this channel!! Thanks a lot!

  23. If it wasn't for Twilight Zone I wouldn't have been a fan of black and white, Twilight Zone is definitely an easy way to accept B&W and just see how amazing it can be, I think too many people today discredit black and white simply because it being too boring, But I love how I can watch black and white and it never requires much work on your eyes, it builds an atmosphere like no other.

  24. the problem isnt the medium, but the quality of the films, that turns off the younger generation. we attribute black and white film to a clunky, low budget production.

    not to forget mentioning that when kids are encouraged by parents/grandparents to watch with them, we end up seeing our elders falling asleep midway, linking old films to a literal snoozefest.

    I would personally love to see more of film noir being explored and exploited in modern times.

  25. Doesnt change the fact that black and white movies often mostly have a depressing quality to them. To have the world stripped of color is nothing more than depressing to me.

  26. The black and white film that i've watch :citizen kane,psycho,the bird,city of lights,12 angry men ,maybe more, but thats all i can remember ,any suggestion what i should watch next?

  27. I get the "ugh" feeling when watching subtitled movies sometimes. Not because I think they lack in anything — sometimes I just want to watch movie and not think about much. I've always e joyed black and white films though. I feel like the contrast can almost help portray certain emotions/set certain vibes.

  28. simply a limitation of the time. giving it more meaning than necessary lol. Its not the lack of color that makes old movies enchanting. Acting was more theatrical or over the top by todays standards.

  29. One great B&W film not mentioned here was Double Indemnity. The shades of gray tones, along with Fred Macmurray's narration made it a classic.

  30. I grew up watching some black and white films like the Universal Horror films and some Laurel and Hardy shorts and features and I was never bothered by it. In fact, black and white is visually pleasant on my eyes and I find myself relaxed just by looking at a black and white film.

    People who say that they don't want to watch a black and white film because it is black and white are idiots because you shouldn't let a films colour put you off from watching a film that you'd end up liking. I know that if I end up being a film director, I would do at least one black and white film.

  31. I love watching the old B&W movies because they often had a great story to tell. After a while, you don't notice they are B&W; your brain kind of adds colour. You know the sky is blue, that person's hair is blonde etc., so you fill in the blanks.

  32. Movies that I recommend people should watch in monochrome-

    Pulp Fiction
    Transformers Franchise
    Dark Knight
    Avengers series
    Hateful Eight
    Shutter Island

  33. I do. Just because I'm 15 I'm not stupid. I love movies. If I'd make a movie it would be black and white.

  34. I thought you were going to touch on the WHY people don’t like them.
    It’s like some initial obstacle of adjusting your mind.
    It requires more effort than your average coloured movie.
    Or something like that I’m not sure.
    What do you think?
    Because when you see Black and White you think “old”??

  35. Wow, you guys are really using my pieces in the videos. And also, is it weird that I don't wanna watch color films?

  36. I lucked out, i was raised on Black and white movies. Never did I balk at watching such films. My only sadness today about them is that i remember so few of them by name, that I struggle to come back to them now all these years later.

  37. After I watched The Twilight Zone I realized that it's not necessarily that bad if something is in black and white.

  38. Hello,

    I have an idea for an artificial music video if you own the right to the content.
    Let me know if you are interested and I'll send you the song!

    best wishes from Luxembourg

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *