Best New Age Black and White Films
written by Souranath Banerjee.
The transition of Cinema from ‘black and white’ to ‘color’ is a unique evolution process that took years of experimentation.
Evidently in Europe (U.k and France), as early as in the beginning of 1900, the first few colored footage were made; they were mostly hand-colored short films. Then in 1914, in U.K Natural Color Kinematograph Company made the first ever full length feature film in color named The World, the Flesh and the Devil.
In 1918 Cupid Angling was made in US by Douglass Natural Color Film Inc. which is the first American ‘colored’ feature. Then of course The Wizard of Oz (1939) and Gone with the Wind (1939) established the era of colorful films.
Eventually the dominance of ‘black and white’ films faded away and cinema was full of colors! By the late 60s only a handful of black and white films are made each year.
Nowadays the black and white medium is regarded as a rare artistic choice for stylized visuals, or specifically used to portray a certain desired mood/emotion.
This list contains the best new-age Black and White Films ever made. Enjoy.
1. The White Ribbon (2009)
Film trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5KJKvvvxY74
A little peaceful village haunted by a series of awful murders!
Directed by the acclaimed German director Michael Haneke, this film is a superb psychological mystery drama.
A black and white classic shot by Christian Berger, the film was also nominated in the Oscars for the Best Achievement in Cinematography category!
2. Nebraska (2013)
Film trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UT5tqPojMtg
Oscar nominated film (nominated in six categories including ‘best film’, ‘best director’ and ‘best cinematographer’).
An emotional yet humorous father-son relationship like never seen before.
3. Ida (2013)
Film trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_xyxFsg_rrY
The Oscar winner in the ‘best foreign film category’.
The film is uniquely in square format (aspect ratio 1.33 : 1) and interestingly most of the frames have huge amount of negative space on the top. A must see.
4. The Turin Horse (2011)
Film trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZNkN_xCXozw
Shot by Fred Kelemen, the film has long takes that meticulously portrays the struggle of each and every character.
Rural settings with harsh climate – black and white imagery at it’s best.
5. Coffee and Cigarettes (2003)
Film trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P_7uQsP2TBk
A series of short, single location films based on people interaction which all have coffee and cigarettes in common!
One of the coolest films ever, directed by Jim Jarmusch with unique casting for each segment.
A black and white film that uses the checker tables, the black coffee and the white cigarette smoke to it’s best advantage.
6. Frances Ha (2012)
Film trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YBn5dgXFMis
Noah Baumbach presents one of the most endearing and funny film of recent times.
A black and white comedy drama that tells the entertaining tale of an ordinary New York girl named Frances. She is quirky, childlike and sometimes a bit immature as well.
Beautifully shot by Sam Levy, the film is as spontaneous and free-spirited as it’s leading lady.
7. Schindler’s List (1993)
Film trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JdRGC-w9syA
Probably the most popular black and white film of our times.
Directed by Steven Spielberg the film is a biography on Oskar Schindler’s life who helped the Jews and saved many lives during the Nazi invasion of Poland in the World War II.
Shot by Janusz Kaminski this film has so strong imagery that one could never forget in their lives.
8. The Artist (2011)
Film trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OK7pfLlsUQM
Nominated for the Oscars in 10 categories and winning 5 awards including the ‘Best Motion Picture of the Year’, ‘best direction’ and ‘best actor’!
A black and white film directed by Michel Hazanavicius that is arty as well as highly entertaining.
Shot by Guillaume Schiffman (oscar nominated), the film is a treat for all black and white cinema lovers!
9. Control (2007)
Film trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7c2_B_cWK_M
A biography of the famous lead singer of the band Joy Division – Ian Curtis.
Directed by Anton Corbijn, the film depicts the troubled life of the musical genius which ended at the young age of 23 (he committed suicide).
The film is a simple yet stylized series of black and white visuals shot brilliantly by Martin Ruhe.
10. Pi (1998)
Film trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jo18VIoR2xU
Darren Aronofsky‘s first feature and an amazing black and white thriller.
A paranoid mathematician who tries to unlock nature’s universal patterns with the help of the magic number Pi!
Matthew Libatique shot the dark contrast images and successfully creates the gritty atmosphere needed for the film.
and (The ‘+1′ film is not necessarily the best but certainly the most unique and cool one. A must watch).
+1. Sin City (2005)
Film trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T2Dj6ktPU5c
If you want to use the word ‘stylized’ to define a film – this is the one.
Super cool visuals straight from Frank Miller‘s comic book pages, the film is an epic is it’s dark and violent story telling.