Wednesday, December 18, 2013

11 Black and White Classics of all time

Throughout history, there have been literally countless masterpieces that had no colour except black and white. Out of such classics (which also include silent films), it was absolutely not easy to come up with few names. In order to make this list, I had to say goodbye to some masterpieces (mentioned in the bottom). Nevertheless, here are 11 films that one should watch to witness some of finest moments on celluloid.

Nosferatu (1922) | Germany
One certainly can’t find a haunting masterpiece of silent cinema like Nosferatu anymore. From storytelling point of view, this faithful adaptation of Bram Stoker's story brings images to the screen like no other film. The sense of realism and the expressionism gives the film its hypnotic visual power. Significant parts of the film got lost over the last 8 decades, luckily for us, some prints of the film survived so that we could enjoy this symphony of horrors.

Metropolis (1927) | Germany
Practically the mother of all Sci-fi films, Metropolis is one of the greatest movies of all time. You find yourself in a state of shock as the film proceeds with great story, genius filming and effects from another dimension. Back in the time when Metropolis was made, computers weren't even invented as all effects had to be done through simple editing. Huge buildings, explosions, flooding and robots, it’s impossible not to get impressed. Beyond doubts, no movie has ever pulled the limits of special effects as much as this one.

The Circus (1928) | USA
Comedy | Romance
With Circus, Charlie Chaplin created some of the most hilarious scenes in movie history, combining his clever slapstick with a genuine humanity that made his character feel like more than just an object of humiliation. Even though silent films aren't seen by many people, works of art like Circus will last forever. Circus is not one of Chaplin's famous movies, but his best.

Wuthering Heights (1939) | USA
Drama | Romance
Just imagine what a job it must have been to get the essence of the novel (by Emily Bronte) in a cinematic form, something the adapters did with grace and charm. The great cinematography makes Wuthering Heights visually stunning while music score gives every movie lover more reasons to cherish this film. With Merle Oberon in all her beauty and dashingly handsome Laurence Olivier, Wuthering Heights creates the magical moments on the silver screen. Undoubtedly, this tale of the passion is a perfect way to lose oneself in the movie magic.

Bicycle Thieves (1948) | Italy
The Italian neo-realist film movement began around the end of WWII. The Bicycle Thief is the best of films that depicted the hardship and despair Italians went through after destruction of the war. Director De Sica shoots the city in grainy black and white with non-professional actors to get a simple, yet unceasingly emotional point across. A simple thing such as a bike can be someone's entire world; how this could be wonderfully shown without this film. So real and brilliant with actors like Lamberto Maggiorani, at times you swear Bicycle Thieves to be a documentary. 

must watch black and white films

(Order by year) 1 - Nosferatu (1922), 2 - Metropolis (1927), 3 - The Circus (1928), 4 - Wuthering Heights (1939)
5 - Bicycle Thieves (1948), 6 - Sunset Blvd. (1950), 7 - Pyaasa (1957), 8 - Some Like It Hot (1959)
9 - Psycho (1960), 10 - Judgment at Nuremberg (1961), 11 - The Artist (2011)

Sunset Blvd. (1950) | USA
Drama | Film-Noir
Beautifully shot, Sunset Blvd. has a witty, clever and extremely well-written script, featuring some of the best acting in film's history. The film contains some of the best characters on celluloid that today's film writers should take note. One of the most appealing aspects of this film is how story captures the life of an aging, forgotten star - Gloria Swanson. In response to the famous Swanson line "we didn't need dialogue; we had faces", you wonder why filmmakers don’t make films like this anymore. 10/10

Pyaasa (1957) | India
Drama | Romance
Pyaasa reminds us that the Golden Age of Hindi cinema was truly golden. It has everything that would surprise modern viewers such as a simplistic set of characters, a rich story and a deep message. This is even more amazing considering that Pyaasa was made in the 50s. Beautiful dialogue, sublime songs, great acting and you are left with loving every single bit of it. Indian cinema has maybe three or four films with perfect endings (in terms of being right for the film). Pyaasa is one of them.

Some Like It Hot (1959) | USA

You would certainly agree that Some Like It Hot is the greatest comedy ever made in Hollywood. Even after years, it's extremely funny and not the least bit dated. A wonderful combination of comedy and romance, Monroe and Jack Lemmon’s facial expressions evoke hell of laughter. All young chaps, don't worry about this being an old-fashioned, black-and-white film as you'll have unlimited fun watching this. And, that is guaranteed.

Psycho (1960) | USA
Horror | Thriller

Most modern-day horror films make killer an absolutely inhuman and unimaginable monster. Anthony Perkins' (leading actor of Psycho) skilfully crafts his performance, avoiding a raving, drooling, and murder-happy manic characterization, which chills the viewer, scares them to death. Perkin's unforgettable performance, a tight script, and classic background score make Psycho a motion picture that is now and will always be remembered as one of the pinnacles of the horror genre.

Judgment at Nuremberg (1961) | USA
Drama | History
They say that time heals every wound. In the case of Holocaust, I'm not sure that this old saying is true. Fortunately, we have a great film like Judgment at Nuremberg to help us not forget the evils of Hitler. A dramatization of one of the real life Nuremberg trials (post WWII) the Judgment at Nuremberg educates viewers in ways that a textbook of facts and figures never could. With an extremely well written script and stellar performances, film assures preservation of a social message that has enduring value. 

The Artist (2011) | France
Drama | Romance

If you're thinking about skipping this film because it's silent and black and white, you're going to miss a very special experience. Everything about this film is exceptional, be it acting, screenplays or story. Despite being black and white, the film is visually appealing as the filmmakers make great use of the medium. The performance by Jean Dujardin (who gave a performance of his lifetime) alone makes The Artist a masterpiece that will leave you simply speechless.

Films that almost made to the list: Grand Hotel (1932), 12 Angry Men (1957), The Apartment (1960), Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? (1966), Schindler's List (1993), Clerks (1994) and Ed Wood (1994)

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