Monday, November 7th, 2022

A celebration of black and white movies

Screenshot of Hugh Jackman as Wolverine in the black and white version of James Mangold movie Logan

A few days after I got my first Blu-ray player, a builder came around to do some work. He’d done a few bits and bobs when I was putting my home together, and we’d become friendly enough to have a chat and a cup of tea after the work was done. Attention turned to my large screen TV and the box beneath.

One thing turned to another and he asked for a recommendation on what to watch. I suggested Psycho, Hitchcock’s classic.

“A black and white film?” he queried. I remember the disbelief.

A couple of weeks later we bumped into one another. He’d bought a new TV and Blu-ray. And yes, Psycho was the first film he watched. Then a couple more black and white films.

“Something about it,” he said.

There’s something special about a black and white film in high definition. They have a clarity and crispness, a stronger focus on their characters and far less on the VFX.

Case in point: Logan. I didn’t know there was a monochrome version until I got it on Apple TV. It’s a great film, a wonderful end to a cinematic legend. The “noir” version, a black and white treatment, turns it into a stunning one.

Logan’s character and his development with his genetic daughter is pushed to the front. He seems to age as the film progresses, every line deepening and the scars becoming more pronounced. The same for Patrick Stewart’s Charles Xavier as he slowly descends into a world of dementia. It takes on a grittier tone, perhaps closer to the classic Westerns James Mangold took inspiration from.

Sadly it seems this “trend” was fleeting, and we’re back to the bright colours of CGI and gore. Equally sadly, it seems my TV doesn’t have a black and white mode.

My name is Ross Hori

I'm a freelance writer, designer and photographer. By day I create articles, features and reports. At night I take photos and write fiction. Find out more.