With the nominations for ‘Belfast’ and ‘The Tragedy of Macbeth’, black and white regains color in Hollywood


If color has taken over from black and white for centuries in cinema, it has always been loved by directors who have often preferred it when it comes to intimate or tragic themes such as the Shoah (Schindler’s letter Spielberg), and like this year Belfast by Kenneth Branagh and The tragedy of Macbeth of Joel Coen competing for next Sunday’s Oscars.

Belfast inspired by Kenneth Branagh for his childhood in Northern Ireland and the adaptation of Shakespeare signed by Joel Coen are just the latest works that have decided to dispense with color, to accentuate the historical perspective of the story or favor the human and intimate aspect. “Color allows you to describe people beautifully, but black and white allows you to feel them.“explained Kenneth Branagh about Belfastdrawn from his experience of violence in Northern Ireland in the late 1960s. The film competes in no less than seven Oscar categories, including the flagship award for Best Picture.

Even though “a sumptuous desert or Andean landscape“can be sensationally represented through color”,it is the human face that acquires an exceptional dimension with a black and white photograph, on a giant screen“, continues the director. This choice “gives a poetic dimension to things that might otherwise seem a bit mundane“, develops with AFP.

For the cinematographer of “The tragedy of Macbeththe French Bruno Delbonnel, in black and white”was meant to bring theaterand a timeless twist to this adaptation of a classic. The role of Macbeth is played by Denzel Washington, who is up for the second Best Actor Oscar of his long career.

Indeed, black-and-white films have continued to be regularly and successfully shot since color (born in 1937) took over in the 1950s. This boom was made possible in particular by the development of less expensive technologies than that had enchanted the spectators. of the Wizard of Oz orgone With the Windboth produced in 1939.

In 2012, The artist, not only in black and white but also silent, had triumphed at the Oscars by winning the award for best feature film. Recently, Rome and Missing they were also recognized by Hollywood for their photography. But this year looks like a bumper crop for grayscale movies.

We all met… It was a directors’ union meeting.joked Mike Mills, whose family drama the souls of our children, starring Joaquin Phoenix, is also blissfully colorless. It was in the running this month for the Baftas, the British film awards. “I love black and white. I am a super snob. I watch a lot of black and white movies, those are my favorite movies, right?“, the 50-year-old man told AFP.

Inside Chiaroscuro, whose star Ruth Negga has been shortlisted for a number of film awards and won the Spirit Awards for Independent Film, this technique is used to better highlight racist discrimination. This film by Rebecca Hall tells the story of a black woman who, in 1920s New York, finds a lost childhood friend who, like her, pretends to be white thanks to her pale skin .

It wasn’t just a stylistic choice. I felt it was a conceptual choice to make a film about colorism. (discrimination based on skin tone, editor’s note) who is himself purged of all color“, explained the director during the festival of Sundance”.We look at faces and immediately categorize them… Categories end up having an importance, but they are also often absurd.Rebecca Hall continues.

Is the current proliferation of black and white film projects by chance? Some experts point to similar trends on Instagram and social media, which could explain why audiences who previously associated the genre with boring, intellectual or old-fashioned movies are now ready to pay attention to it. “As we get used to images with altered colors, including black and white photos and videos, they can become less associated with the past. (…) We began to see them only as aesthetic options“, writes Alissa Wilkinson, from the cultural magazine Vox.

For Mike Mills, black and white is so”resume“which produces an almost effect”magic in the beholder“.”We are no longer in the real world. We are driven towards a story, towards art“, he confesses.


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