Saturday, January 28, 2006

black and white - shadow

Watching some Hitchcock tonight - as one must from time-to-time. This one was Shadow of a Doubt, from 1942, said to be Hitchcock's favourite movie.

Interesting for many things, including the fact that a lot of it was shot on location, unusual for the time (the locale being a place called Santa Rosa, apparently real). Annette was, as she always is, entranced by it's true black and white nature. As she says, also truthfully, "they don't make pictures like this anymore". The lighting was always the important thing in these pictures, especially so-called 'noir'. I would bet that these days if you ever get the odd new black and white movie, it's probably desaturated colour rather than true B&W. As any photographer would know, the blacks must be black and the whites white. It's hard these days to get hold of good black and white still film (though Ilford came back again), so I suspect true black and white movie film may not even exist, or not in any quantity. Such a shame.

This film, as many black and white pics I remember from the dim dark past, was such a joy to watch. Something crisp and clean, but also dark and murky about them. Something true which is lost in colour (which has other virtues, of course). A good script as well, but that's another thing again.

3 comments:

Susan Abraham said...

Jill, I'm an avid collector of the West European black and white films.
I stay entranced by the illumination of mood forms that such films are likely to convey. And also, the deep deep dialogue (a clear example is the Swedish director, Bergman) in almost wooden tales (very little movement)that are so betwitching. regards

Martin Edmond said...

Jill - the Charlie Chaplin/Adolf Hitler doco on ABC last week featured coloured footage of The Great Dictator shot by Charlie's bro while the 'real' picture was being filmed in b & w. That beautiful late 30s colour, so rich ... the fidelity to detail in the (colour) costuming was amazing ... & yet when it went back to b & w it looked better, crisper.
M

Jill said...

Susan,
I also love Bergman and the lack of movement, I wouldn't call it wooden, but a stillness within the drama of black and white lighting.
Martin,
I love the old colour too, lovely cossies, but there's somethig about the old black and white that encouraged a real sense of composition of the shot.
Jill