Black and white cinematography is a form of art that dates back to the early 1900s. It has been used in many films because it helps bring out the contrast between light and dark.
It’s one of many techniques that filmmakers use to create a unique look for their films.
A lot of directors have used this effect, but it was most famously seen in Alfred Hitchcock’s film “Psycho.” This technique gives off a feeling that makes the audience feel really spooked out.
In this case, the person’s silhouette will be starkly contrasted against the light and cast as shadows against darker parts of an image.
This technique can also be used to create mood or evoke emotion from viewers by using shots of empty streets during nighttime.
BEST BLACK AND WHITE CINEMATOGRAPHY
What Is Black and White Cinematography?
For decades, black and white cinematography has been a very popular choice among filmmakers. It is often used to create an effect of old-time beauty in a film.
Many people believe that the reason why it was so prominent for many years is that it was a cheaper option for those who wanted to create their own films without spending too much money on equipment or supplies.
Black and white movies can also have a sepia tone to them. The first film ever made was in black and white, so it’s no surprise that they remain popular today.
What Is Black And White Cinematography?
In black and white images, there are no colors other than shades of gray so it forces people viewing them to concentrate more on what they see rather than what they think they see which is not always accurate since we often associate color with meaning.
Black and white films are often shot with film cameras, but they can also be photographed digitally
There are many advantages to this style including its ability to create an atmosphere based on the scene being filmed or convey a more realistic feeling.
The disadvantages include that colors have less effect on viewers than they would if they were in color and do not capture details like skin tone or hair color very well.
Best Black And White Cinematography Examples
Cinematography is the art of capturing moving images on a film or digital media.
Black and white cinematography is a widely popular style in which most colors are excluded from the image.
This can be achieved by shooting monochrome film with a camera with no color filter; alternatively, it can be created in post-production by coloring an image using software to exclude all but two colors.
The best black and white cinematography examples are a way to take the audience on an artistic journey.
This type of cinematography is used by directors who want to focus purely on creating mood, atmosphere, and emotions through visuals without relying too heavily on dialogue or other soundtracks
Here is our list of the most interesting, unique, and important black-and-white movies!
Persona is a 1966 Swedish psychological drama film, written and directed by Ingmar Bergman and starring Bibi Andersson and Liv Ullmann.
Famed stage stress Elisabeth Vogler (Liv Ullmann) suffers a moment of blankness during a performance and the next day lapses into total silence.
Advised by her doctor to take time off to recover from what appears to be an emotional breakdown, Elisabeth goes to a beach house on the Baltic Sea with only Anna (Bibi Andersson), a nurse, as company.
Over the next several weeks, as Anna struggles to reach her mute patient, the two women find themselves experiencing a strange emotional convergence.
- Liv Ullmann, Bibi Andersson, Gunnar Björnstrand (Actors)
- Ingmar Bergman (Director)
- English (Subtitle)
- English (Publication Language)
- Audience Rating: NR (Not Rated)
A Girl Walks Home Alone At Night (2014)
This Iranian vampire Western was created by Ana Lily Amirpour, and it’s had international success since its release in 2014, starring Sheila Vand, Arash Marandi, Dominic Rains.
The movie tells the story of an adolescent female vampire who roams the streets of Tehran looking for prey on her way home after a night out with friends
A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night is set in contemporary Iran but it also offers viewers insight into what life was like during the 1979 revolution when people were struggling to find their place in life.
In the recent film A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night, a young woman named Sheba has to navigate her way through a dark world where she’s both victim and predator.
There are two parts of town: the wealthy area where people live in relative peace and safety, but they’re surrounded by walls; then there’s Bad City which is full of violence and crime but open to everyone.
Rumble Fish (1983)
Rumble Fish is a 1983 American drama film directed by Francis Ford Coppola.
It is based on the 1975 novel Rumble Fish by S. E. Hinton, who also co-wrote the screenplay with Coppola. The film stars Matt Dillon and Mickey Rourke.
The term “rumble fish” is a phrase used in the novel Rumble Fish by S.E. Hinton to describe people who are dangerous and unpredictable, like how a rumbling fish can be an unknown force of nature.
The two brothers are very different from each other; Darry is tough and strict while Rusty James is carefree and lazy.
When their father comes back to visit for Christmas, he tells them that they will be moving to Tulsa after New Year’s Day because he found a job there as an oil rigger on one of the platforms out in the Gulf of Mexico.
This causes some tension between Darry and Rusty James but things change when they start hanging around a gang called “The Motorcycle Boyz.”
It also shows how he deals with living without his parents because they died when he was four years old while on vacation at Yellowstone National Park and how this has affected him throughout his life.
Killer’s Kiss (1955)
Killer’s Kiss is a 1955 American crime film noir directed by Stanley Kubrick and written by Kubrick and Howard Sackler.
It is the second feature film directed by Kubrick, the first being his 1953 debut feature Fear and Desire.
The film was originally released in 1955 and starred Frank Silvera, Jean Hagen, Albert Dekker, Maxine Cooper, and Elisha Cook Jr. It has gone on to become an iconic cult classic but for reasons that are still debated today.
What we do know is that this low budget was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Writing (Screenplay) in 1956.
In 2008 it became available on DVD as part of MGM’s Limited Edition Collection line so now you can see why it has such a devoted following!
Hope you enjoy it!
Manhattan is a 1979 American romantic comedy-drama film directed by Woody Allen and produced by Charles H. Joffe.
The screenplay was written by Allen and Marshall Brickman. Allen co-stars as a twice-divorced 42-year-old comedy writer who dates a 17-year-old girl (Mariel Hemingway) but falls in love with his best friend (Michael Murphy)’s mistress (Diane Keaton).
Meryl Streep and Anne Byrne also star.
Manhattan was Allen’s first movie filmed in black-and-white and was shot in 2.35:1 widescreen. It features music by George Gershwin, including Rhapsody in Blue, which inspired the film. Allen described the film as a combination of Annie Hall and Interiors.
The Night Of The Hunter (1955)
In the 1950s, a man named Charles Laughton directed and starred in The Night of the Hunter.
A classic film that has been deemed by many as one of the best films ever made.
It is full of suspense, mystery, and intrigue.
The Night of the Hunter is a 1955 American thriller starring Robert Mitchum, Lillian Gish, and Shelley Winters.
The screenplay was written by James Agee based on the 1948 novel of the same name by Davis Grubb.
It tells the story of a serial killer who preys on widows and their children along West Virginia’s fictional Mount Zion Road in 1924.
Listed among critics’ “most overlooked classics,” it has been called “a true original” that manages to be both terrifying and poetic at once, while also being cited as one of cinema’s few films that successfully capture Southern Gothic literature’s dark essence.
Ivan’s Childhood (1962)
Ivan’s Childhood, sometimes released as My Name Is Ivan in the US, is a 1962 Soviet war drama film directed by Andrei Tarkovsky.
Co-written by Mikhail Papava, Andrei Konchalovsky, and an uncredited Tarkovsky, it is based on Vladimir Bogomolov’s 1957 short story “Ivan”.
The film features child actor Nikolai Burlyayev along with Valentin Zubkov, Evgeny Zharikov, Stepan Krylov, Nikolai Grinko, and Tarkovsky’s wife Irma Raush.
The plot is built around the life of Ivan, when Nazi invaders destroy his Russian village and kill his family, 12-year-old Ivan is placed in a German prison camp.
He escapes from the camp and crosses back over to Russia, and comes under the care of Capt. Kholin (Valentin Zubkov), who wants to send Ivan to military school.
Ivan refuses, requesting that he be allowed to use his powers of stealth to return to Germany to spy on the Nazis and avenge the killing of his family.
The Better Angels (2014)
The story of Abraham Lincoln’s childhood in the harsh wilderness of Indiana and the hardships that shaped him, the tragedy that marked him forever, and the two women who guided him to immortality.
The Better Angels is a 2014 American biographical historical drama film about United States President Abraham Lincoln’s formative years. It was written and directed by A. J. Edwards and produced by Terrence Malick.
The film had its premiere at 2014 Sundance Film Festival on January 18, 2014. It was subsequently screened in the Panorama program at the 64th Berlin International Film Festival on February 8, 2014.
The Man Who Wasn’t There (2001)
Ed, who runs a salon owned by his brother-in-law Frank, comes across an opportunity to make quick money. He then blackmails Doris’s boyfriend Big Dave to give him the cash.
The Man Who Wasn’t There is a 2001 crime film written, produced, and directed by Joel and Ethan Coen. Billy Bob Thornton stars in the title role.
Also featured are Tony Shalhoub, Scarlett Johansson, James Gandolfini, and Coen regulars Frances McDormand, Michael Badalucco, Richard Jenkins, and Jon Polito.
The plot follows a laconic, chain-smoking barber as he plans to blackmail his wife’s boss and lover for money to invest in dry cleaning.
Joel Coen won the Best Director Award at the 2001 Cannes Film Festival, sharing the prize with David Lynch for Mulholland Drive.
Ethan Coen, Joel Coen’s brother and co-director of the film did not receive the Best Director Award as he was not credited as a director. This was the last film to be produced and distributed by Gramercy Pictures until it was revived in 2015.
The Good German (2006)
The Good German is a 2006 American film adaptation of Joseph Kanon’s 2001 novel of the same name. It was directed by Steven Soderbergh and stars George Clooney, Cate Blanchett, and Tobey Maguire.
Set in Berlin following the Allied victory over the Nazis, it begins as a murder mystery but weaves in elements involving the American postwar employment of Nazi rocket scientists in Operation Paperclip.
But as Berlin falls into anarchy and war rages across Europe once again, both men will be challenged in ways they never expected–and neither will emerge unchanged or unscathed.
As their lives intersect with those of an American journalist; a young woman from East Germany; an ambitious Nazi officer.
Schindler’s List (1993)
I’m not sure if you’ve seen Schindler’s List but I was watching it on TV last night and the music is really good. It has this kind of sad vibe to it that just makes me feel so emotional, almost like I can’t breathe.
In addition to being a great movie, the soundtrack is also one of my favorites. This movie doesn’t seem as dark when you listen to the score because somehow there’s hope in every note.
The soundtracks are all different depending on what mood they want to evoke during certain scenes which is pretty cool.
Schindler’s List is a 1993 American drama film directed and co-produced by Steven Spielberg.
The story takes place in Nazi Germany during the Second World War and tells the true-life story of Oskar Schindler, who saved over 1,100 Jews from being killed in concentration camps by employing them in his factories.
The film was nominated for 12 Academy Awards and took home seven Oscars, including Best Picture and Best Director. It was the first Best Director win for Spielberg, who had been nominated in the category for three of his earlier films
The movie won the Oscar for Best Film at the 1994 ceremony.
Raging Bull (1980)
It is a fascinating and insightful documentary about the life of the prize-winning boxer, Raging Bull.
Written and directed by Martin Scorsese, this movie is a captivating look at one man’s descent from his glory days as an undefeated fighter to his downfall in the ring.
The film stars Academy Award winner Robert De Niro as Jake LaMotta who takes us through his rise to success with humor and deep insight into what it means to be a man. This thrilling story will leave you astounded and asking for more!
In the movie, Raging Bull, Jake LaMotta is a boxer who has all but given up on his career.
He’s lost his last three fights and no one wants to fight him anymore.
The only thing he has left in life is a rage that leads him to frequent fistfights with anyone around.
His wife fears for her husband’s mental health and begs him to get help from a psychiatrist, but he refuses because of his stubbornness.
Metropolis is a 1927 German expressionist film directed by Fritz Lang.
It was one of the most expensive films made in the silent era, and its production involved elaborate sets and innovative special effects.
The film presents a dystopian vision of an industrial society set in 2026, with high-rise buildings dominated by advertising billboards that bear resemblance to New York’s Times Square.
It has been deemed as a “masterpiece” by the Library of Congress and is often cited as one of the first films to combine science fiction with modern city life.
The cityscape in Metropolis reflects how society evolved from being based on agriculture to industrialization. The movie depicts many different themes, such as religion, power, social class, mass production, and the machine age.
It won multiple awards including Saturn Award Best.
Kuroneko is one of the best supernatural horror tales ever made, and it has tons of spooky atmosphere to spare.
Yabu no Naka no Kuroneko, “A Black Cat in a Bamboo Grove”; or simply The Black Cat is a 1968 Japanese horror film directed by Kaneto Shindo, and an adaptation of a supernatural folktale
The plot is about two women who are raped and killed by samurai soldiers. Soon they reappear as vengeful ghosts who seduce and brutally murder the passing samurai.
The movie’s implacable sense of poetic justice is only equaled by its graphic smarts.
Sunset Boulevard (1950)
Sunset Boulevard is a 1950 American black comedy film noir directed and co-written by Billy Wilder and produced and co-written by Charles Brackett. It was named after a major street that runs through Hollywood, the center of the American movie industry.
Praised by many critics when first released, Sunset Boulevard was nominated for 11 Academy Awards (including nominations in all four acting categories) and won three. It is often ranked among the greatest movies ever made.
As it was deemed “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant” by the U.S. Library of Congress in 1989, Sunset Boulevard was included in the first group of films selected for preservation in the National Film Registry.
In 1998, it was ranked number 12 on the American Film Institute’s list of the 100 best American films of the 20th century, and in 2007, it was 16th on their 10th Anniversary list.
Ida is a 2013 drama film directed by Paweł Pawlikowski and written by Pawlikowski and Rebecca Lenkiewicz.
When a young novice nun goes to meet her aunt, her aunt tells her that her parents were Jews and were killed in Poland during the Second World War. Her aunt also takes her to her parents’ house.
The movie won Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film of the Year.
Out Of The Past (1947)
It is a 1947 film noir directed by Jacques Tourneur and starring Robert Mitchum, Jane Greer, and Kirk Douglas.
Out Of The Past is undeniably a film noir, and rightly regarded as one of the genre’s best.
Direction by Jacques Tourneur pays close attention to mood development, achieving realistic flavor that is further emphasized by real-life settings and topnotch lensing by Nicholas Musuraca.
It is essential viewing for the noir fan and the kind of movie that could make a neutral third party into a noir fan in the first place.
The Third Man (1949)
In the 1948 film “The Third Man,” Orson Welles portrays Harry Lime, a character who has been discredited in Vienna.
When he is found mysteriously murdered in an alpine village, his friend Holly Martins comes to investigate and learns that Harry was involved with the black market of penicillin.
The Third Man is a 1949 British film noir directed by Carol Reed, written by Graham Greene and starring Joseph Cotten, Alida Valli, Orson Welles, and Trevor Howard.
Set in postwar Vienna, the film centers on American Holly Martins (Cotten), who arrives in the city to accept a job with his friend Harry Lime (Welles), only to learn that Lime has died.
Viewing his death as suspicious, Martins elects to stay in Vienna and investigate the matter.
It isn’t a particularly challenging film but it is entertaining, it moves at a quick pace, and the mystery at the heart of it is fun to try and piece together.
Odd Man Out (1947)
Odd Man Out is a 1947 British film noir directed by Carol Reed, and starring James Mason, Robert Newton, Cyril Cusack, and Kathleen Ryan.
Set in a Northern Irish city, it follows a wounded Nationalist leader who attempts to evade police in the aftermath of a robbery.
It is based on the 1945 novel of the same name by F. L. Green.
The film received the first BAFTA Award for Best British Film and was also nominated for the Academy Award for Best Film Editing. Filmmaker Roman Polanski repeatedly cited Odd Man Out as his favorite film.
What begins as an exercise in realism that includes an exceedingly quiet, civil robbery sequence, becomes increasingly expressionistic as it goes along.
The film is based on a novel by Robert Bloch and stars Anthony Perkins, Janet Leigh, John Gavin, and Vera Miles
It’s directed by Alfred Hitchcock who had previously made many suspenseful thrillers such as “Vertigo” (1958) and “North By Northwest” (1959).
Psycho is a movie that was released in 1960 and based on the novel of the same name by Robert Bloch. The film starred Anthony Perkins, Janet Leigh, John Gavin, Vera Miles, Martin Balsam, John McIntire, and Lila Kedrova.
Psycho is a psychological thriller about Marion Crane (Janet Leigh), who steals $40,000 from her employer to start a new life with her boyfriend Sam Loomis (John Gavin).
She goes on an errand for work to collect some money but decides to take more than she needs so she can leave town without being noticed
Psycho was nominated for four Academy Awards, including Best Supporting Actress for Janet Leigh and Best Director for Hitchcock.
Good Night And Good Luck (2005)
“Good Night, and Good Luck” is a 2005 American drama film directed by George Clooney, and starring David Strathairn, Patricia Clarkson, Clooney.
It is about the conflict between veteran radio and television journalist Edward R. Murrow (David Strathairn) and U.S. Senator Joseph McCarthy of Wisconsin, especially focusing on the anti-Communist Senator’s actions with the Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations.
The movie takes its title from an October 15, 1953 episode of Murrow’s show See It Now in which he says: “This instrument can teach, it can illuminate; yes, and it can even inspire but it can do so only to the extent that humans are determined to use it towards those ends… Good night, and good luck.”
This film is an excellent example of how one person can change society by standing up to those who would like to silence them or control what they say.
It was released in 2005 to critical acclaim for its depiction of the power that television has over the public and how it can be used as a weapon against totalitarianism.
Through a Glass, Darkly (1961)
Through a Glass Darkly (Swedish: Såsom i en spegel, lit. ‘As in a Mirror’) is a 1961 Swedish drama film written and directed by Ingmar Bergman, and starring Harriet Andersson, Gunnar Björnstrand, Max von Sydow and Lars Passgård.
- Polish Release, cover may contain Polish text/markings. The disk DOES NOT have English audio and...
- Harriet Andersson, Gunnar Björnstrand, Max von Sydow (Actors)
- Ingmar Bergman (Director)
- English (Subtitle)
Concrete Night (2013)
Directed by Pirjo Honkasalo. With Johannes Brotherus, Jari Virman, Anneli Karppinen, Juhan Ulfsa
Shooting in black and white, cinematographer Peter Flinckenberg conjures up a stark chiaroscuro that amplifies the sense of desolation.
But the images are poetic and stirring rather than debilitating; the dramatic lighting gives the rundown buildings and abandoned construction sites an otherworldly look.
The movie received multiple awards, such as Jussi Award for Best Film, Art Direction, Best Cinematography, Sound Design, Direction, and Editing.
The Big Combo (1955)
The Big Combo is a 1955 American film noir crime film directed by Joseph H. Lewis and photographed by cinematographer John Alton, with music by David Raksin
The film stars Cornel Wilde, Richard Conte, and Brian Donlevy, as well as Jean Wallace, who was Wilde’s wife at the time. It also included the final screen appearance of actress Helen Walker.
Where the usual noir takes place in a nightmare world, this one seems to inhabit a dream: there’s no longer fear in the images, but rather a distanced, idealized beauty.
The film is about a police lieutenant who comes under pressure from a gang headed by a vicious thug.
He is helped by the gangster’s wife, jealous of her husband’s affair with another woman, who supplies him with information to help him close the net on his foe.