Saturday, April 2, 2016

B is for Black & White

It's April and that means the A to Z Blogging Challenge! This year my theme is film terms.

The use of black and white in filmmaking is an intentional choice because it creates a distinctive mood. If the same film were shot in color, it would have a completely different feel. Take a peek at some of the best B&W films of all time:

Citizen Kane (1941) - Directed by Orson Welles

Welles used filmmaking techniques that had never been done before. His unusual camera angles, framing, light, shadow and perspective were enhanced by his use of B&W, which made this movie one of the most ground-breaking films in American cinema.

Casablanca (1942) - Directed by Michael Curtiz

Casablanca was a romance filmed during World War II and focused on current political culture. The use of B&W emphasized the sadness of lost love and the bleakness of war.

Double Indemnity (1944) - Directed by Billy Wilder

This film is a classic example of film noir - crime dramas shot in B&W which created deep shadows and distinctive lighting.

The Seventh Seal (1957) - Directed by Ingmar Bergman

The B&W images in Ingmar Bergman's The Seventh Seal are incredibly beautiful. The deep blackness of Death and the compelling silhouettes of the Dance of the Macabre display the power and drama of the story.

Some Like it Hot (1959) - Directed by Billy Wilder

Wilder wisely decided to film in B&W to portray Tony Curtis and Jack Lemon as women in this zany comedy. They would have looked garish in color and it would have made it difficult for the audience to go along on this crazy ride.

Psycho (1960) - Directed by Alfred Hitchcock

B&W can instill fear and dread in an audience. In Psycho, Alfred Hitchcock did this beautifully.

Manhattan (1979) - Directed by Woody Allen

To capture the glamour and beauty of New York, Woody Allen shot his masterpiece Manhattan in B&W. The city's streets, buildings, bridges and people became living, breathing photographs. B&W brings nostalgia to the present.

Schindler's List (1993) - Directed by Steven Spielberg

Historical footage of the deliverance of the concentration camps and the Nazi propaganda films were in B&W. Thus, modern films that portray the Holocaust are typically shot in B&W to show realism and authenticity. Spielberg's Schindler's List was inspired by the real life story of Oscar Schindler. This is a beautiful film with powerful images. The dramatic sequence of a little girl in a red coat is the only use of color in the film.

Do you have a favorite black and white film?


  1. One of my most favourite films is Casablanca and the reason is because I love the black and white version. There is something unique about looking at a film or a picture that is not produced with color. I personally prefer it. And yes, Pscho was so intense that the majority of the time my eyes were closed.
    Thanks for a great article.
    Patricia @ EverythingMustChange

    1. Pat, I agree. Black and White is captivating. I really have a pet peeve about colorization of original b&w films.

  2. I love black and white, especially when modern filmmakers make the choice to use it. What a great collection of films you have listed up there too! So many great classics.

    1. Kate, I think it's pretty awesome that some of the more recent Academy Award nominated (or winning) films were shot in B&W, such as The Artist and Nebraska.

  3. The beautiful images in RED BEARD (1965), give me goosebumps. The director, Akira Kurosawa, chose to film in black and white, and masterfully framed light and shadow in each shot.

    1. Trudy, I've never seen Red Beard. I will definitely check it out.

  4. I really liked The Artist (2011) not only shot in B&W but also a silent film! I was really lucky as I also got to see it in Britain's oldest cinema The Electric in Birmingham which originally opened its doors in 1909!
    A Stormy’s Sidekick
    Special Teaching at Pempi’s Palace

    1. SENCO, yes the Artist was amazing. How awesome for you to see it in that setting! It actually inspired me to do a silent B&W film, which I entered in the Wyo Short Film contest in 2012.

  5. i love Schindler's List - so powerful with emotion.

    1. Printed Portal, I agree about Schindler's List. I rank it as my favorite film of all time.