On the occasion of the release of “Malcolm & Marie” on February 5 on Netflix, here is a top of the best recent films and yet in black and white. Five films without color but which remain filled with emotions.
1. Schindler’s List (1993)
Let’s start with Steven Spielberg’s masterpiece. Schindler’s List retrace Oskar Schindler’s life, played here by Liam Neeson. Oskar Schindler was a German industrialist having saved more than a thousand Jews during the Second World War, by making them work in its factories.
Steven Spielberg chose black and white for historical reasons. He wanted to get as close as possible to films shot during World War II. He also used dandruff of the time, and shot no less than 40% of the shots camera on the shoulder to give the impression of a documentary.
The feature film received Seven Oscars in 1994, and from an economic point of view, it brought in no less than $ 321 million at the box office.
2. Hate (1995)
Let’s continue with the famous feature film by Mathieu Kassovitz. Hate is a poignant film of 1995 on three young people living in an HLM housing estate, while the latter embraces after the beating of Abdel Ichah by a police inspector, during an interrogation. The film received the César Award for Best Film in 1996.
With the ambition to be broadcast on television, Hate was first shot in color. However, Mathieu Kassovitz made black and white copies, copies which were presented at the Cannes Film Festival. The success was such that the black and white was preserved, and the film was released on large screens.
According to the director, “black and white always has a rather exceptional side because it make things see the way we don’t see them, and that’s why it drains more realism“, as he said in an interview with the newspaper Humanity, in 1995. A success for a dive into the heart of societal problems, unfortunately still relevant.
3. The Lighthouse (2019)
Directed by Robert Eggers, The Lightouse was presented to the Cannes Film Festival Directors’ Fortnight from 2019.
Willem Dafoe and Robert Pattinson find themselves as lighthouse keepers on a mysterious and remote island of New England in the 1890s. As a storm isolates them even more on their island, the two protagonists begin to have hallucinations …
Here, the use of black and white allowsaccentuate the horrific dimension of the film. The colors being dark, they allow to rekindle a feeling of fear and dread. The viewer is therefore all the more frightened.
4. Sin city (2005):
Sin city is an adaptation of the comics of the same name written and drawn by Frank Miller. Literally the city of sin, Sin City is a city infested with criminals, rogue cops and femme fatales. This town doesn’t know justice. Several characters eager for revenge will then meet at Kadie’s Club Pecos, a nightclub in Sin City.
Like the comics, there are also some touches of color in the feature film, around a red mouth or paint stains for example. Directed by Robert Rodriguez, Frank Miller and Quentin Tarantino, Sin City is a very violent film.
Black and white therefore allowsmitigate this violence by keeping things quiet. For example, a splash of blood will be more concealed. Despite this, we can still imagine the brutality present in some scenes.
5. The Artist (2011):
Let’s end with the work of Michel Hazanavicius having shone internationally. The Artist trace the descent into hell of a silent film actor at the time of the appearance of talking films. At the same time, a young woman becomes the new star of talking cinema. The two actors will then be reunited for the shooting of a feature film.
The Artist taking place atpivotal period in the development of talking films, the use of black and white is intended to be a diving into this period. Indeed, although it dates from 2011, the feature film incorporates all the codes of the first cinematographic works: black and white but also silent.
The success was such that The Artist received five Oscars in 2012, something that was not never happened for a French feature film.