Revisiting the Silver Screen, in Black and White

Leila Eliot, ’16

Almost everyone reading this has watched at least one movie in the last week; maybe even in the last day. What makes a movie appealing to the average person?  Is it an interesting storyline? Complex characters? A thought-provoking summary?  More often than not it is a movie you just remember a friend recommended or Netflix thinks is like the movie you just finished.  What people don’t generally want is anything made before the 1990’s.  What they don’t realize is that just because a movie is in black and white or made before they were born doesn’t mean it isn’t worth their time. 

When BHSEC students were asked the last time they watched a black and white movie the answers were surprising.  There were people who responded that they were “never really interested.”  The most consistent response was “they don’t come to my attention.”  It became apparent that those who watched black and white movies the most had been doing so for their whole lives. In contrast, these movies have to be explicitly encouraged for most teenagers to watch them.  

It is not just black and white movies that people seem to be unaware of, but most movies made before the 90’s.  In fact, a professor of film theory at the University of Utah said that people don’t tend to watch movies made before their time because “the film industry does not put money into advertising them.”  If movies are not being advertised, and neither friends nor family members are suggesting them, most students have little initiative to watch black and white movies. But just because movies are no longer being encouraged by the media does not mean that they are not worth watching. If you see a black and white movie, or a movie made before your era that you think is amazing, recommend it to a friend or family member.  Motivate the people around you to bring these stories back to life. 

Not all movies made before the 90’s are amazing; there are plenty of bad apples.  Yet some of the movies being neglected are truly extraordinary.  Next time you want something to watch something, Google the best movies from the 1930’s and see what comes up.  Watch a few previews or read a few summaries.  You might be surprised!


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