Michel Hazanavicius’ 2011 film “The Artist” might be one of the more critically successful black-and-white films of recent history (it won the 2012 Academy Award for Best Picture, along with four other Oscars and numerous other honors), but it is far from the only one. As CGI and other visual effects tools increasingly seem to define and dominate movies, myriad filmmakers are returning to the industry’s roots by employing black-and-white. Zach Prewitt of Plot Point Productions has paid tribute to the aesthetic with a supercut of 26 films that feature some of the best black-and-white imagery in cinema history (it’s worth mentioning that “The Artist” is not among the films Prewitt highlights in his nearly 6-minute video).
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One of the most recent films to make the cut and one Prewitt uses multiple times, Ana Lily Amirpour’s “A Girl Walks Home Alone At Night” is a gorgeous Iranian vampire movie that eschews color to brilliantly set its tone, and Pawel Pawlikowski’s “Ida” is another stunning example of black-and-white filmmaking, which was awarded with the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film this year. Of course, foreign language films aren’t the only ones that have successfully opted to go colorless. “Schindler’s List” is an obvious example, which naturally belongs in Prewitt’s video, but we don’t have to go back 22 years to find others. A.J. Edwards chose black-and-white last year for his biopic of a young Abraham Lincoln, “The Better Angels.”
For some of the films included in Prewitt’s mashup, shooting in color just wasn’t really an option. Though Technicolor was founded in 1915, it wasn’t until 1935 that Technicolor’s first feature “Becky Sharp” was released. Hollywood played with color tinting, toning and other methods in the years between and would spend many more experimenting with and growing accustomed to color film technology (for a great write-up on the history of color in film, head over to Filmmaker IQ). Yet most of the pictures Prewitt features were made after the advent of color cinema, so those film’s lack as such is an aesthetic choice. His supercut is proof positive that black-and-white is still an incredibly potent way to choose to tell a story and, under a skilled cinematographer, can make for an unrivaled movie going experience.
What are some of your favorite black-and-white films of late? Are there any glaring omissions from the supercut? Share your thoughts in the comments. [via No Film School]