Estando Essay

3675 words - 15 pages

Color versus Black-and-White in Film

Color versus Black-and-White in Film

HUM150

June 7, 2010

Color versus Black-and-White in Film

Learning Team A elected to analyze The Big Sleep in black and white film and A Soldier's Story in color. The team's main objective was to compare the similarities and contrast in the following areas: primary focus, contribution to expression, photographic techniques, atmosphere, cinematic moment, characterization, editing, transition, moral, and director's intent.

Primary Focus and Ranking

The primary focus of The Big Sleep was the characters, followed (in order) by the plot, style, and ideas. The ...view middle of the document...

The ideas, mindsets, of the characters showed the pervasive attitude and cultural differences among the Black enlisted men and the White officers. Upon seeing Captain Davenport the reaction was generally shock. No one had seen a Black officer before. Although some boundaries were lifting, the ideas represented in the film showed how segregation and bigotry were prevalent in attitudes and treatment of Black people.

Overriding Purpose

In the beginning of filmmaking, black, white, and shades of gray were all they had to work with. Classic movies are not classic because they are older. They are classic because they were successful in their attempt to tell a page out of the human experience. Without color, The Big Sleep could allow the viewer to focus more on the "bare bones" of the picture. The effect was that the film was a bit simpler with sharper contrasts between the good and the bad, so to speak. The characters of The Big Sleep involved in the most devious acts happened to wear dark colors in the backdrop of night and turbulent weather. Whenever filmmakers choose to use black-and-white film, they tend to do so because of the simplicity and the added usefulness that comes from fewer aesthetic distractions.

The vastly increased color palette used in A Soldier's Story enhanced the film visually to bring more vibrant dynamics to the story. Adding color brings about an extra layer in itself to depict that things are not truly black and white, even if the film could lead one to believe so in the beginning. The varying skin tones of the cast play a pronounced role as it seems to mirror many dimensions of the human psyche. Capt. Davenport has a very dark complexion, more similar to the majority of the soldiers than Sgt. Waters, and acts both as a bridge to the Black soldiers and an obstacle to the White soldiers. The closing scene is overwhelmingly Army green, indicating that specific color is what matters most, as all soldiers are part of the same fighting force.

Surface-Level Subject

In The Big Sleep, the theme of the movie is understood as somewhat dark because most of the important scenes are shown at night. When something bad is about to happen to a character, it suddenly rains or becomes very foggy. This lets the audience know that something bad will happen. The directors of most movies offer clues about what is going to happen. They may do this by choosing how much to show and when. In many movies, actions and even objects can be interpreted as clues to what is about to happen in the story (Hirschman, 1993).

The deeper meaning of this particular story is that anything can be used against a person and that people will try to keep someone quiet by any means necessary. A person may also try to hurt the others close to an individual to keep information from leaking to the press and the police, or threaten them to coerce someone to do whatever they want.

On the other hand, in A Soldier's Story, most of the scenes are...

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