What I didn’t know about black and white movies.

20 08 2012

I visited London a couple of weeks ago. One of the highlights was to be the South Bank, and in particular the British Film Institute, hidden within a myriad of grey concrete complexes. After a lot of walking, people watching, building watching and coffee, we decided to retreat from the sun and find out what lay within the huge glass door entrance a large party of visitors had just entered through. Inside a 1960’s film poster caught my attention. A brashly coloured image of Shirley MacLaine and Jack Lemmon seemed to jump out from the five or six other film posters lined up across the wall.(Andy Warhol eat your heart out). It portrayed another time, other values and world i felt intrigued by and wanted to learn more about. Seated in the immaculate red velvet seats with gold embossed numbers, black and white images filled out the screen. Initially i felt disappointed. Black and White? But the poster is in colour. Within minutes though I became absorbed by the setting, the characters and the story line. Television it seems just doesn’t do justice to these films, but on the big screen they bounce back to life again. There was so much to take in,so many revelations, so much set detail,and all that 1960’s fashion of course. And as well as being entertained I learned a lot. I hadn’t realised for example that fast food existed back then (Pizza and TV dinners), and that sex was just as much a topic then as it is now, adultery in particular. Also that power corrupted moral’s back then in the same way that it still does. The performances of Jack Lemmon, Shirley MacLaine and Fred MacMurray were magical. Enchanting. Faces lined with all the faults, frailties and emotions I recognised in both myself and the world that surrounds me now. The love affair between two quirky people on the peripherals of society who eventually succeed in being together is a triumph. Its a true tear jerker. A fulfillment of all those hopes and dreams that surely many of us still bear. But the ultimate eye opener for me was just how much colour could spring from a black grey and silver screen.



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