Black & White Gives More Color

As an English teacher, I sometimes show black and white movies in class, which almost always elicits groans and complaints from most of the students.  Something I usually tell them is to notice how well black and white can create sharp contrasts and evocative atmospheres in settings, far more so than color can.

I like to use the first few minutes of Citizen Kane as an example of this–try imagining those exterior shots in color.  It would lose all of its intimidating power.


This summer I’ve seen David Lean’s 1948 version of Oliver Twist, and it makes the same point.  Those first few minutes out on the stormy moors wouldn’t be half so gloomy if they were in some glossy, digital HD rainbow.

One comment on “Black & White Gives More Color

  1. I’ve been watching the original Twilight Zone series (thanks Netflix!) and had reaffirmed my own belief in the same. Aside from artistry, black and white films have always looked sharper and… clearer… than color (we’re talking film color… 60’s-70’s, not today’s digital).

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