Six Films Made in the Last Decade Shot in Glorious Black-and-White

By Matt Prigge
Add Comment Add Comment | Comments: 0 | Posted Oct. 24, 2007

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The Girl on the Bridge (1999): Sometime in the mid-'60s, color--once simply a sign of studio extravagance--completely usurped B&W, leaving any film that forsook it to be written off as art. Few films handled this tag more positively than Patrice Leconte's thoroughly ridiculous tale of a knife thrower (Daniel Auteuil) whose target (Vanessa Paradis) likes to have orgasms as cutlery is hurled her way. No bland gray palette here; the blacks are deep black and the whites deep white--accenting, while never entirely excusing, the film's terminal mooniness.

The Heart of the World (2000): Among the shortest (at a little more than six minutes) and awesomest of Guy Maddin's excavations of silent-era stylings. YouTube it forthwith.

Werckmeister Harmonies (2000): B&W film has no better friend than B�la Tarr, the Hungarian master of deep textures and the slowest, longest shots imaginable. The seven-and-a-half-hour S�t�ntang� (1994) perfected Tarr's hypnotic experiments in shot duration, during which time itself evaporates. At two and a half hours, his follow-up has been called "S�t�ntang�-lite"--but them's not fighting words. You ain't seen God till you've seen a four-minute trawl around a dead whale.

The Man Who Wasn't There (2001): The Coen Brothers (with ace director of photography Roger Deakins) actually filmed their existential neo-noir in color, then switched to monochrome in postproduction. At least one foreign DVD contains both versions, if you're curious.

Coffee and Cigarettes (2003): Jim Jarmusch's love affair with B&W film as seen from shorts made over the last two decades, from grainy in the '80s to crisp and beautiful in the '00s.

Control (2007): Photographer Anton Corbijn's Ian Curtis biopic doesn't get everything right, but there's one thing it nails: the flat and soul-sucking industrial feel of '70s Manchester, summoned via striking B&W 'Scope. Sigh ...

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