In the past two days, I got to watch two B&W movies: La Haine and Pi. I didn’t know they were going to be in black and white, since I didn’t do any research about either of the movies before I saw them, so it kind of came as a shock for me and I sat through feeling uncomfortable (especially in La Haine) and I believe this is one of the effects the director intended to present.
La Haine is a French movie, launched in 1995, about a group of young teenagers and their struggle with the police. The movie features a series of videoclips (I believe are real) from the news about riots and fights between civilians and the police force. The movie follows three teenagers going through a day of their lives.
Pi was launched in 1998 and was directed by Darren Aronofsky, the director of Requiem for a Dream. You can see similarities between the two movies in the camera style and music (same music producer). The movie is about a mathematician searching for the key number he believes will unlock all the mysteries of universal patterns in nature.
After watching the two movies, I started wondering why both directors would decide to film in black and white. I thought it was probably that the audience would not be distracted by colors and minor details. Also, in certain scenes this effect makes it more difficult for the audience to see what’s going on on the screen, which adds to the suspense and mystery. In La Haine, the videoclips from the news (which begin the whole movie) are in black and white, which offers continuity. And also, it looks very artsy.
So I did some research and it turns out that I was right. These B&W movies relie more on the story than the special effects to keep the audience’s interest. Also, there’s another reason that I can’t believe I’d missed: it offers a dark tone and pessimistic mood, which I’d say fits both La Haine and Pi.
Another fact I found is that it’s much cheaper to film in black and white. This probably applies more to Pi, since it’s a low/none-budget movie. (They didn’t even pay to secure any location permit for any scene filmed.)
One thing that I noticed though, is that even though La Haine is three years older than Pi, the movie looks much newer. I’m not sure why but I’d guess that it’s because Pi is a low/none-budget movie, so they probably didn’t spend as much on camera equipments as La Haine did.
Both the movies have very strange and different camera angles, techniques, and style. They are, overall, both very good movies and I recommend them to anyone who’d like to experience something different from regular Hollywood movies. Something that’d make you think. A movie that’s also a piece of art.