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Video Essay Makes the Case for Black-and-White Film Noir’s Influence on ‘Breaking Bad’ — Watch

Also: what parodies get wrong about noir.

“Have you ever heard somebody say, ‘I can’t watch black-and-white movies?'” asks the creator of the Now You See It YouTube channel in his latest video. Said video essayist takes issue with that mindset, and he’s here to explain why in just four minutes. “Black and white can do just as much as color,” he contends, and for Exhibit A he turns to film noir.

READ MORE: 8 Essential Film Noir Movies MoMI is Resurrecting From the 1940s

Our intrepid host uses examples of both good and bad parodies to make a point: “Saturday Night Live” got it wrong by using low-contrast black and white in a recent skit inspired by “Casablanca,” while an old “Calvin and Hobbes” comic strip mimicked the style much more skillfully. The poor imitation demonstrated by the likes of “SNL,” he argues, is why some consider black and white to be boring — they’ve seen parodies send up the style without demonstrating what makes it compelling in the first place.

READ MORE: Attention, Filmmakers: Here’s How to Create the ‘Film Noir’ Look with No Budget

Using clips from such genre standard-bearers as “Double Indemnity,” “Touch of Evil” and “The Maltese Falcon,” he argues that “the simplicity of black and white means that the eye can observe more key features in the shot.” To make the point that black and white–averse viewers may be more inclined to the aesthetic than they realize, he eventually turns his attention to “Breaking Bad.” Watch the clip below.

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