The history of motion pictures goes all the way back to 1895 when the Lumière brothers screened the first film at the Grand Cafe in Paris. Since then cinema has undergone various changes. One significant change was the shift from black & white to colour. Despite this transformation, the legacy of black and white films remains unshaken.
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Let’s take a look at 9 black and white films that stunned the world.
9. Paths of Glory (IMDb Rating: 8.4)
Paths of Glory is a 1957 war drama directed by Stanley Kubrick. The story revolves around an incident that puts the lives of three soldiers at risk. Col. Dax (Kirk Douglas), their commander, has to find an immediate solution to save their lives. The first half of the movie captures horrific scenes of war, while the second moves to an engaging courtroom drama. The movie showcases the helplessness of average soldiers and the discrimination they face from their officers. A highly underrated movie by Kubrick.
8. Rebecca (IMDb Rating: 8.1)
“Master of Suspense” Sir Alfred Hitchcock is the director of Rebecca, a 1940 psychological/romance/mystery. It is based on Daphne du Maurier’s 1938 novel Rebecca. The story revolves around a woman (Joan Fontaine) who marries a widower Mr Maxim de Winter (Laurence Olivier). Horror strikes when she starts finding things about her husband’s ex-wife and her unnatural death. The movie keeps the viewer curious till the end like a classic Hitchcock thriller.
7. M (IMDb Rating: 8.3)
M is a 1931 German mystery directed by Fritz Lang. The film’s screenplay was written by Lang and his wife Thea von Harbou. This was Lang’s first sound film. The movie talks about the horror and traumatic experiences of a town in Germany, where an unknown serial killer hunts and kills children. As a result, the Berlin police looks out for the killer. After watching the film one would wonder how a film back in the 1930s dealt with such a complex topic. A real masterpiece!
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6. Sherlock Jr. (IMDb Rating: 8.2)
Sherlock Jr. is a 1924 silent comedy film with a length of just 56 minutes. The film was directed by Buster Keaton who has also portrayed the central character in the film. The story is about a theatre projectionist in a dream that involves the love of his life. From start till the end, it’s filled with a lot of funny moments that keep us entertained. The film was just an average grosser at the box office but it went on to achieve cult status among cinephiles.
5. Apoorva Raagangal (IMDb Rating: 7.5)
Apoorva Raagangal is a 1975 Tamil romantic drama directed by K. Balachander. The term “Apoorva Raagangal” translates to “Rare Melodies”. The story is about a young man Prasanna (Kamal Hassan) who falls for a much older lady Bhairavi (Srividya), while her daughter Ranjani (Jayasudha) falls for Prasanna’s father. The film received praise for its theme and equal representation of women in cinema. It also marked the entry of Superstar Rajnikanth to Tamil cinema.
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4.Yakshi (IMDb Rating: 7.8)
Yakshi is a 1968 Malayalam horror directed by K. S. Sethumadhavan. This movie is regarded as the first psychological thriller in Malayalam. It is an adaptation of a novel of the same name written by Malayattoor Ramakrishnan. The plot revolves around the life of Sreenivasan (Sathyan), a college professor who met with a serious laboratory accident. It is a perfectly made classic with an exceptional performance from Sathyan master. It has got elements of horror and provides thrills and emotions.
3. Pather Panchali (IMDb Rating: 8.5)
Pather Panchali is a 1955 Bengali film directed by Satyajit Ray. This was his first feature film and is based on Bibhutibhushan Bandyopadhyay’s novel of the same name. It was made under the production of the West Bengal government and is the first instalment of Ray’s famous Apu trilogy. The movie focuses on the emotional struggle and hardships faced by two children “Appu” and his sister “Durga”. It was mainly praised for its raw depiction of the harsh realities of Indian villagers.
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2. Rashomon (IMDb Rating: 8.2)
Rashomon is a 1950 Japanese movie directed by Akira Kurosawa. It is adapted from a short story In a Grove written by Ryunosuke Akutagawa. The movie is about four people who give totally different statements about a man’s murder and the tragedy of a woman. Rashomon was one of the first movies to introduce the non-linear way of storytelling. The term “Rashomon Effect” was created based on this film and refers to the contradictory descriptions given by individuals about a particular event. This is a timeless classic from Kurosawa!
1. 12 Angry Men (IMDb Rating: 9.0)
12 Angry Men is a 1957 American courtroom drama directed by Sidney Lumet. It is an adaptation of a teleplay of the same name by Reginald Rose. The story is about a trial faced by an 18-year-old boy, who is accused of first-degree murder. The court asks a jury of 12 men to find whether the accused is guilty or not. The movie is regarded as the best courtroom drama ever made. The surprising factor is that it was Sidney Lumet’s debut film!
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That was my list of black and white films. Did I miss your favourite? Tell me in the comments section.