The Black-and-white Movie Trilogy of Madness

I like movies in black-and-white. It’s not that I want to watch only these kind of movies, but I think they create a certain atmosphere. An atmosphere which cannot be achieved by movies in color. Using the black-and-white feature is especially good for stories of darkness, madness and surrealism. In the following article I share my personal, so beloved black-and-white trilogy of darkness and madness. I hope you will find inspiration through it and maybe try to watch some of these classic movies. Could be mind-changing!

Repulsion or disgust of mankind

Catherine Deneuve in Repulsion (1965) (Compton Films)

The first black-and-white movie of this trilogy is the disturbing classic Repulsion (1965) from Roman Polanski with Catherine Deneuve. The film shows in a very special way the disgust of a young, beautiful woman towards men. The predator-like males flock around her and try to get the female all by themselves. But they didn’t know that this woman is different and ready to defend herself …

The movie is staged very creatively and oppressively. The black-and-white look give it a nightmarish vision. Especially one scene when many different hands in one aisle reach out to grab the woman, paw her, needs to be remembered! And after all the movie can’t only be seen as disgust of men, but also a disgust of mankind in general. Even other women disappoint her!

As filmmaker M. Night Shyamalan said correctly about Repulsion: “(The movie is) so restrained and unnerving.

Pi or human insanity

Sean Gullette in Pi (1998) (Copyright Artisan Entertainment)

Directed by Darren Aronofsky Pi (1998) is a delightfluy psychological thriller. The coarse-grained black and white film is about the paranoid mathematical genius Maximillian Cohen (Sean Gullette), who believes that everything in nature can be understood using numbers. As the plot progresses, the protagonist becomes increasingly crazy and entrenches himself more and more in his abstruse mathematical theories … 

The movie is a piece of considerable atmospheric density. The protagonist presents the stages of claustrophobia and schizophrenia in a physically intense way. Human insanity and madness are presented in a blatant, fascinating way.

Pi is definitely one of Aronofsky’s best movies! Check it out!

Eraserhead or the forlornness of mankind

Jack Nance as Henry Spencer (Photograph: Allstar/Cinetext/Polygram)

Eraserhead (1977) is David Lynch’s first film masterpiece. It tells in a very special way the story of Henry Spencer’s fatherhood, which puts a physical and psychological strain on him. When the baby dies, Henry’s problems, but also he himself, dissolve …

The movie has no real genre. This fact makes it appear as a completely independent work, completely sui generis. It makes it extremely difficult to classify Eraserhead. There is talk of a prenatal perceptual fantasy, a horror film, a slime orgy, a macabre comedy, a science fiction film, a social drama or a punk film. This sui generis character of the film with its own logic and alienated world points directly to another level of the film: the play with dream and reality.

Indeed, the play with dream and reality makes Henry look lost. The forlornness of humanity in the world is shown by the example of the protagonist. This is underlined by the absurd moments in Eraserhead, which make one think of the absurd theatre of Eugène Ionesco or Samuel Beckett, but also of films by Jacques Tati, among others. The film’s absurdity makes it even funny in places. The partly naive and clumsy embodiment of Jack Nance reminds also of silent movie comedians à la Harry Langdon.

Eraserhead is a black-and-white experience on its own! Dare you and enter David Lynch’s mind!

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