Try This, Kids at Home!

I’m sure we all remember, or at least know of the controversy surrounding colorization. You know, when Orson Welles told Ted Turner to keep his crayons away from Citizen Kane, and film critics dedicated entire shows to preaching about the evils of colorization. As well as it being completely at odds with the artistic vision of the filmmakers, colorization’s biggest crime is somehow managing to look simultaneously garish and washed-out. Especially when it’s done wrong, giving Frank Sinatra brown eyes for example.

In short, it’s shit.

But have you ever considered viewing a colour film in black and white? I believe it was Billy Wilder that claimed black and white photography was best suited to performance-based films, as there are no colours to distract you from the acting. All you need to do is turn the colour down on your television and you have an instant decolorized film.

It’s a mere novelty, but sometimes it can allow you to appreciate certain aspects of a film that were previously hidden to you behind dazzling colours and effects. I tried it last night whilst watching The Big Lebowski, and you know what? It’s actually quite fun. The noir flourishes are more apparent in black and white, highlighting the Chandleresque plot rather nicely. I’m sure the Coen Brothers would be mortified to learn that their film was being viewed improperly, but fuck them. It’s my telly.

4 Responses to “Try This, Kids at Home!”

  1. …That…That’s genius!

    Must try this sometime. I regularly convert photos I’ve taken into monochrome as the effect can lend gravitas to certain shots. Can’t believe I’d never considered it for film.

  2. I do that to all my photos. Mostly because they’re taken in my room, which has no pleasant colour scheme to speak of. So it’s inky blacks and not-much-lighter-than-that whites for me, thanks.

  3. Splendid notion … I like the idea of this. It reminds me of playing (classical) piano pieces up or down an octave – or even transposing at other intervals – and suddenly appreciating harmonies and chord voicings in a wholly new context. Cunning.

  4. daveselectricblanket Says:

    I’ve only ever seen one colorized film and that was Invasion of the Bodysnatchers. Added nothing but great, if only within the context of the original.

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