MovieChat Forums > Seance on a Wet Afternoon (1964) Discussion > Why were so many British films of this e...

Why were so many British films of this era in black + white?


This may be a really stupid question, but for some reason it's only just now occurred to me to ask it. Many of my favorite films are from the postwar British period in the 60s (there are many others from the 40s and 50s but I'll leave them out of the color argument.) Examples: A Taste of Honey, The Knack and How to Get It, Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner, Accident, The Servant, King & Country, Victim, Bunny Lake is Missing, etc. I imagine it must have been a stylistic choice as color film was available then, and the lack of color became part of the characteristic style and mood of these films. Was it a sort of unspoken, collective aesthetic decision by directors working in Britain in the 60s, or part of a school of film?

Antonioni made Blow-up during this period and it clearly didn't belong - it came out in stunning color. It almost makes his film seem to belong to a different era. Modesty Blaise was bursting with color (unlike Losey's other films mentioned above.)

There must have been many intelligent things said about this period and style of filmmaking - would someone enlighten me as to where to read more about it?

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In the 1960s color films were still just coming into their own. Even big budget 60s war films like "The Longest Day" and "In Harm's Way" were made in black and white. Add to that, the UK was just coming out of a period of severe post-war austerity and color films were simply more expensive to make. Plus there may have been some feeling that "serious" films didn't need color.

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In the '50s and early-'60s, the decision, even in America, about whether to use color or black-and-white was not so much economic but topical.

Gritty social dramas and thrillers were shot in B&W while lighter fare, like comedies and musicals, were mostly in color.

1966 was the line in the sand for movies and TV: anything that hadn't made the switch to color pretty much had to from that point on.

In post-war Britain, the choice likely was economic as well.

But it's just as well. So many of these films wouldn't have quite the same appeal without that end-of-the-world, early-'60s flavor, a flavor enhanced unquestionably by the use of B&W.

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[deleted]


No the loans were not cancelled, the final payment was made in 2006.

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You can add Darling, Georgy Girl, Morgan! to the list. Very valid observation.

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Antonioni made Blow-up during this period and it clearly didn't belong - it came out in stunning color. It almost makes his film seem to belong to a different era.
There's also a big difference between 1964 (SEANCE) and 1966 (BLOW UP). That's just how the '60s was.

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The most profound of sin is tragedy unremembered.

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"Accident" was in color, actually.

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Was it? Wow, I have a bad memory. It just feels black and white when I think about it. Time to see it again.

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It would seem that in the first half of the 1960's, the majority of the films were still in black and white, actually (at least of those that I've seen... which would be around 25-30 films per year on average). But this changed quite quickly as by the end of the decade, only very few were not in color.



"facts are stupid things" - Ronald Reagan

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For one thing, color film was still very expensive.

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It's not just British films. I've seen countless films from Japan and a lot of them from the 60's look as if they were filmed in a previous decade.

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