Black and white is better

For some reason, I was thinking about how much better for movies black and white is as a visual medium. Because of this tweet. I can’t believe I remembered:

I had a wonderful high school teacher who showed us THE GRAPES OF WRATH on 16mm. One student complained that it was B&W and he said β€œYou can’t shoot the dust bowl in color.”

Said tweeter is Brian Fulton.

Black and white adds a dedicated layer of artifice to the film. You have to engage with it; you had to engage with it back in the twenties, thirties, forties, fifties, and early sixties as well. The world is not monochrome. The brain has to fill things in.

I’ve been primed to thinking about how people watch film after overhearing some people at movie night talking about how Titanic is pre-CGI because CGI wasn’t good enough yet. Or thinking about how they’re building Millennium Falcon sets again instead of just shooting on green screen. The great CGI revolution of the nineties and aughts has developed into something else. It’s a tool and one entirely concerned with creating any artifice. Exactly the opposite, in fact.

Artifice is still there, of course; it should be embraced not avoided.

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