With the advent of color film in 1935, directors had tremendous opportunities to create that spectacularity and realism, for which, in fact, people come to cinemas. It would seem that black and white cinema should have died, as it was silent in its time, but many directors (not only art-house and independent) still make black and white films. We decided to find out how and why they do it.
"Alice in the Cities" by Wim Wenders
In 1974, Wim Wenders directed the film "Alice in the Cities" … His previous picture, shot in color - "The Scarlet Letter" - failed miserably. The return to b / w was for Wenders, by his own admission, the discovery of his handwriting in the cinema.
German journalist Philip Winter (Rüdiger Vogler) travels around America and takes an endless number of Polaroid photographs, believing that they better reflect the life of the country than any sketch. At the airport, Philip meets compatriot Lisa and her daughter Alice (Yella Rotterler). Lisa suddenly disappears and throws Alice at Philip. Together they travel around Germany and look for Alice's grandmother, who may not really exist. The inexplicable spontaneous friendship between Alice and Philip arises gradually, but eventually develops into an almost mythical connection, and against the background of the fact that all other human relations in the film are not manifested or play any role, this alliance makes a very strange impression.
As usual, it is important for Wenders to show that whatever a person is looking for in his wanderings, it is all contained in himself; there is also freedom in his lostness: he can go anywhere.
"Dead Man" by Jim Jarmusch
In 1995, the movie was released "Dead Man" Jim Jarmusch. Prior to that, the director made five films, two of which ("The Mysterious Train" and "Night on Earth") were in color.
This is a film-journey, where the main character is killed at the very beginning, after which his adventures begin. Dressed in a clown plaid suit, accountant William Blake (Johnny Depp) arrives in the eerie City of Machines to get a job at a local factory, but rather quickly gets a bullet from a jealous cowboy, the groom of a new girlfriend, and literally walks out the window. From that moment on, Blake embarks on a journey to the next world, accompanied by the Indian Nobody, who periodically terrorizes him with quotes from the poet William Blake, that is, himself. Jim Jarmusch, who studied English literature at Columbia University, has stuffed Dead Man with so many references, themes and motives that it's not so easy to figure them out. One thing is clear: the whole convention of "Dead Man" - its style, the vagueness of the genre (what is it - comedy? Drama?
"Pi" by Darren Aronofsky
"Pi" - the story of the brilliant mathematician Max Cohen (Sean Gillett), obsessed with the idea of finding a universal code for calculating the stock exchange price, in which both Wall Street tycoons and mad rabbis are beginning to have a keen interest, confident that this combination is a welcome key to communication with God. In addition to the fact that Pi is Aronofsky's full-length debut, it is also an innovative thing in cinematography: the director used high-contrast film, so there are no halftones in the image, only the extreme points of the spectrum - black and white. Max Aronofsky's hallucinations were filmed with a subjective camera: the viewer seems to become a hero himself and sees them. Although the film was filmed with money collected from friends and relatives, its color scheme is not explained by a low budget: in schizophrenia, there is generally little light and rainbow.
"The Man Who Wasn't" by the Coen Brothers
Per film "The Man Who Wasn't" brothers Joel and Ethan Coen received the Palme d'Or in 2001. According to them, they were inspired to create a black-and-white film by a variety of pulp fiction from the forties.
This film-noir-stylized picture takes place in 1949 in California. The phlegmatic hairdresser Ed Crane (Billy Bob Thornton) smokes one non-filter cigarette after another, and his voice-over tells that he works in his son-in-law's barber shop ("I never considered myself a hairdresser. I just cut my hair"), that he and his wife they know each other as well as they did two weeks after the first meeting - "pretty good overall," and that his Doris is an accountant in a lingerie store and is having an affair with her boss. As often happens with the Coens, the unhurried set-up does not prepare the viewer for what happens next, and all he can do is flinch and blink. This film does not dare to call this film a drama: it is homerically funny. At the very moment when a person decides to become the master of his own life, this very life goes downhill - in this there is some especially cruel mockery of the universe.
Good Night and Good Luck by George Clooney
"Good night and good luck"George Clooney's story of the confrontation between TV presenter Edward Murrow and Senator Joseph McCarthy, a violent communist hater known for his "witch hunt", by George Clooney, contains black and white archival recordings of the real McCarthy's performances, which determined his color scheme, but he was originally filmed in color. In addition to the fact that "Good Night" is first and foremost an ideal stylization for the fifties, it is obviously a very personal and long-suffering piece for Clooney. At first, it’s not very clear why the director of Confessions of a Dangerous Man would suddenly tackle a story fifty years ago, but the 2005 Clooney knew exactly what he was doing: a more elegant way to taunt the Bush-era media and their willingness to bow to whoever is bigger. pays, it was hard to come up with.
"Tetro" by Francis Ford Coppola
One of the last, recently released black and white films - "Tetro" Patriarch Francis Ford Coppola.
Seventeen-year-old Benny (Alden Ehrenreich), a naive handsome sailor, comes to Buenos Aires to visit his older brother Tetro (Vincent Gallo). The appearance of a relative does not cause stormy joy in Tetro: he tries to banish any mention of the past from his life. At first glance, the brothers have nothing in common. They are united only by their hatred of their father, the famous conductor Carlo Tetrocini (Klaus Maria Brandauer).
Formally "Tetro" is not completely black and white - Coppola shot numerous flashbacks in color (not a new technique for him, which appeared in "Fighting Fish"). In addition to color, fundamentally different shooting techniques are used in these two parts: the scenes in Buenos Aires are almost entirely filmed with a static camera (moreover, a digital one), there is nothing accidental in them, light, shadow, reflections - everything is thought out to the smallest detail. In color inserts the camera is in constant motion, and they were obviously filmed on film. One could accuse the director of flirting with the form, but the color scheme of the film in this case is not pictorial, but a plot necessity: for Tetro there is no turning back, all ties with the past are cut off, the family is lost, the name has been changed.
Coppola directed this film according to his own script, largely autobiographical. However, at the premiere of the film at the Cannes Film Festival in 2009, he stated: “There was nothing like it. And everything is true."