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The Magic of Monochrome

The Tragedy of Macbeth (2021)

Last week, two new trailers announced the release of upcoming black and white films: Joel Coen’s The Tragedy of Macbeth and Rebecca Hall’s Passing. Both films rely on stark monochromatic visuals that strip away the familiar colourful palettes found in most modern films. Considering the Shakespearean source material, Coen’s decision seems a deliberately theatrical one. However, Hall’s might be simplistic given the film’s racial themes.

What is it about black and white that make them such compelling choices when a spectrum of countless colours exists? Let’s take a look at memorable monochromatic films that made a lasting impression in modern cinema.

One of the most iconic black and white films that always comes to mind is Woody Allen’s Manhattan (1979). Allen opted for monochromatic tones to illustrate his magical vision of New York City. The beautiful Queensboro bridge shot lives on in our minds until today.