The 25 Most Beautiful Black-And-White Movies

Wings Of Desire, Beauty And The Beast, Embrace Of The Serpent, Dead Man, Seven Samurai, The Seventh Seal, The Passion Of Joan Of Arc …

We’ve all got our favorite black-and-white films. Any top 10 or 25 list will surely leave some of our favorites out and start a debate – that’s well worth having. Doing the hard work of picking our tops and supporting our choices helps us be clearer about what we most appreciate, inspiring ideas for how we might incorporate those qualities in our own images and be better able to celebrate it with others. Preparing for this task is a pure pleasure. Consider immersing yourself in the wonderful world of black and white with classic movies.

Here are 5 lists of the most beautiful black-and-white movies. Enjoy!

Taste Of Cinema – The 25 Most Visually Stunning Black-and-White Movies of All Time

List Challenges – The 25 Most Visually Stunning Black-And-White Movies of All Time

IMDB – Most Beautiful Black And White Films (Post 1965)

Listal – The Most Beautiful Black And White Films

New York Film Academy – The Best Black & White Films In Cinematography

What are your favorite black-and-white movies?
Leave your recommendations in the comments.

Find more Color Theory inspiration from the movies here.
Explore my Black & White resources here.
Learn more in my digital photography and digital printing workshops.

Understanding Wes Anderson’s Unforgettable Color Palettes In 10 Movies

Color Theory and Wes Anderson’s Style — Sad Characters in a Colorful World

Few directors use color as masterfully and idiosyncratically as Wes Anderson. In each movie and scene of individual movies, color sets the mood and tells you about the plot and character. Though he clearly understands and uses classic color theory, his use of color transcends aesthetic formulas and encodes content with complexity and nuance.

Watching his movies is both an education and an inspiration.

Read a detailed analysis of 10 movies here.
The Wes Anderson Color Palette: Bright Colors Meet Dark Subjects

How To Take Accidentally Wes Anderson Photos

Follow Wes Anderson on Instagram here.

Follow accidentallywesanderson on Instagram here.

Find more Color Theory inspiration from the movies here.
Learn more in my digital photography and digital printing workshops.

How To Decode Color In Christopher Nolan’s Amazing Movie Inception

Consider how you can use color as a code to move viewers between images and/or sets of images. Christopher Nolan’s masterful use of color in his movie Inception will inspire you to new heights.

Inception moves between five levels of reality; waking, three levels of dream, and limbo, a plane of infinite subconscious that can be entered by traveling through the deepest dream level. The differences between each dream level’s color palette help viewers distinguish where characters are as they move between layers. Color becomes more than pleasing; it becomes content, a code to be decoded.

In the highest waking and lowest dreaming layers there is no consistent color palette; they have not been designed by the dream architect Ariadne. The three dream layers that have been designed have consistent palettes.

Dream layer one’s rainy exteriors are dominated by grays, dark blues, and blacks.

Dream layer two’s urban interiors are composed of warm oranges and browns.

Dream layer three’s snowy exteriors are rendered with bright whites and grays.

Understanding the use of color in Inception helps viewers orient and better understand this complex movie.

How many ways could you apply this principle in your images?

Find more Color Theory inspiration from the movies here.
Learn more in my digital photography and digital printing workshops.

How Classic Movies Use Color To Tell Compelling Stories

Whether in painting, photography, or motion pictures, color theory is one of the most important elements in art theory.  Learn what colors mean and why and investigate the power of colour as this video answers the question “How can color tell a story?”

Find more Color Theory inspiration from the movies here.
Learn more in my digital photography and digital printing workshops.

11 Movies That Use Day For Night Plus An Inside Look At Nope’s Brilliance

“Day for night” is a set of cinematic techniques used to simulate the appearance of night while filming during the day. It’s often used when it’s too difficult or expensive to shoot at night, but it’s sometimes selected deliberately because it offers special image qualities. It’s not just technique, it’s also an aesthetic.

The same techniques cinematographers employ can be used for still images. If you’re called to explore these unique palettes, you’ll find lots of inspiration from the movies.

Some of the best examples of movies that use day for night include …

Dune 1 & 2
Mad Max: Fury Road
Pan’s Labyrinth
Lawrence Of Arabia
Passion In The Desert

Stay tuned for details on how you too can use day for night techniques.

Find more Color Theory inspiration from the movies here.
Learn more in my digital photography and digital printing workshops.

4 Movies That Showcase Zhang Yimou’s Brilliant Use Of One Color Dominance

Looking for some color inspiration? Try Zhang Yimou’s films. This director repeatedly uses one dominant color in a movie to saturate it with emotion and symbol.

Here are four of my favorites.

Raise The Red Lantern (red)

House Of Flying Daggers (green)

Hero (white)

Shadow (black)

Find more Color Theory inspiration from the movies here.
Learn more in my digital photography and digital printing workshops.

7 Movies That Mix Black & White And Color Masterfully

Black-and-white and full-color palettes present such different visual realities that it’s extremely difficult to combine them in a single project. Without a reason, it’s distracting, but when it’s used symbolically, it can work wonders. Below are 6 movies that do it masterfully.

The Wizard Of Oz

The Wizard Of Oz portrays Dorothy’s mundane life in Kansas in black-and-white and the dreamland of Oz in color.

Wings Of Desire

In Wings Of Desire, the ordinary world is depicted in color, while the spirit world inhabited by angels is portrayed in black-and-white.

Asteroid City

Colorization and black-and-white (plus varied aspect ratios) are used to represent different time periods.

The Purple Rose Of Cairo

Celia becomes entranced by Tom, the main character of a movie, who steps out of the black-and-white screen and into Cecilia’s color reality.


Simplistic black-and-white Pleasantville becomes increasingly morally more complex, signified by the growing presence of color in the picture. The film also uses the idea of “color” as a metaphor for the separation of people of color during the 1950s.


Using different film stocks and shifting constantly between black-and-white and color, JFK weaves real and reimagined news footage together, making it difficult to tell fact from supposition.


Color shows Oppenheimer’s subjective point of view. Black-and-white shows an objective perspective, usually through another character’s point of view.

Find more Color Theory inspiration from the movies here.
Learn more in my digital photography and digital printing workshops.


10 Best Uses Of Color In Movies Of All Time

As this video shows, “Color is one of the most effective tools in a storyteller’s arsenal.”

When you’re choosing the colors in your still images, you can find limitless inspiration from color grading in movies. This is true for single images and for series or bodies of work. Color will not only make your images look more compelling but will also help you discover and communicate more with them.

Find more inspiration with these resources.

10 Movies With Amazing Color Schemes

50 Iconic Films and Their Color Palettes

Find more Color Theory inspiration from the movies here.
Learn more in my digital photography and digital printing workshops.

A Brief History Of The Color Wheel


image source 


In 1666 the first color wheel was invented in by Sir Isaac Newton best known for his theories on gravity, motion, and light. (His theories on light are detailed in his seminal volume Optiks). Newton used a triangular prism to split a beam of white into a rainbow, proving that light is composed of a spectrum of hues – ROYGBIV. When he wrote down the different hues he made an influential decision to create a circle by connecting the opposite ends of the spectrum red and violet. (Unsurprisingly, if you spin the color wheel quickly, you’ll see white as the colors blend together.) Newton believed colors shared harmonious relationships with one another and went so far as to assign musical notes to each hue. Within this color wheel he rotated geometric shapes to identify different types of relationships.



In 1807 painter Philip Otto Runge reimagined the color wheel as a color sphere by painting a color globe using three primaries plus black and white, complete with cross-sectioning.



In 1989 Albert Henry Munsell created a three-dimensional model of color in the form of a central cylinder graded from black to white surrounded by a ring of possible hues.

05_ColorWheel 06_ColorWheel


Adobe’s Color Wheel (Window > Color), one of the most used color wheels today, advances this tradition by refining the arrangement of complementary hues from subtractive (pigment or dye) to additive (light) ones, making color theory more precise. While sadly it does not offer a three-dimensional model, it offers other two dimensional graphs, including its classic square that plots all permutations lightness and saturation of a single hue plus a side-by-side rainbow slider to change the hue and gives numerical values for a given hue in four different color spaces – HSB, LAB, RGB, and CMYK.

07_ColorWheel 08_ColorWheel 09_ColorWheel

Chromix ColorThink

You can find virtual 3D color wheels in programs like Apple’s Color Sync which is designed to show and compare the shape of different color spaces or in Chromix’s Color which can also plot an image within the virtual volume. These models are even more informative because they show that color is not spherical but shaped more like a teardrop. One day we may be able to plot various shapes within them to design new color relationships and to more precisely identify the color relationships within existing images.

Follow up with Why Painters’ And Photographers’ Color Wheels Differ.

Read more in my Color Theory resources.

Learn more in my digital photography and digital printing workshops.

All The Words Of The Rainbow



The language used to describe color has a long storied history; sometimes tied to its method of manufacture and sometimes tied to mental or emotional associations. What language lacks in precision it makes up for in expression. It’s great for poetry and marketing.

Contrast this with the numerical language of HSL (i.e. 13/48/76), which is better for precise identifying and communicating color.

Read more on HSL here.


Enjoy exploring this collection if you’re trying to find out what color a word refers to or if you’re looking for the right word to describe a color.


apple, beet, blooming, brick, blood, blush, burgundy, burning, carmine, cerise, cinnabar, claret, cherry, cochineal, coral, crimson, damask, fire engine, fire hydrant, flame, florid, fox, garnet, glowing, gules, lipstick, madder, maroon, pink, poppy, rose, rouge, rubicund, ruby, rufous, rust, russet, sanguine, scarlet, strawberry, tomato, vermillion, wine


amaranth, blush, bubblegum, carnation, champagne, coral, crepe, flamingo, flesh, fuscia, hot, lemonade, lipstick, mary kay, neon, peach, powder, puce, punch, rose, salmon, taffy, tickle me, watermelon


apricot, basketball, burnt, cantaloupe, carrot, chanterelle, chestnut, citrus, copper, coral, creamsicle, flaming, fiery, ginger, gold, marmalade, merigold, minium, monarch, neopolitan, orangatan, papaya, peach, pumpkin, salmon, salamander, sandstone, sherbert, soda, starfish, straw, sunflower, sunrise, squash, tangerine, tiger, yam


amber, banana, blonde, ash blonde, bottle blonde, strawberry blonde, bumblebee, butter, buttermilk, butterscotch, canary, corn, cream, daffodil, dijon, egg nog, flaxen, gamboge, golden, goldenrod, honey, imperial, indian, lemon, macaroon, medallion, mustard, naples, neon, ocher, orpiment, parmesan, pineapple, pollen, sandy, saffron, straw, topaz, tow-colored, tuscan, wheaten


absinthe, acid, apple, army, artichoke, avocado, aquamarine, basil, bosky, bottle, celadon, chartreuse, clover, copper, crocodile, fern, grass, emerald, evergreen, fir, forest, grass, jade, jungle, juniper, kale, kelly, leaf, lime, lincoln, lush, malachite, mint, moss, neon, olive, parakeet, pea, pear, pickle, pine, sage, sap, sea, seafoam, seaweed, shamrock, spinach, spring, terre verte, verdant, verdigris, vert, viridian


admiral, agean, arctic, antarctic, aquamarine, azure, baby, berry, beryl, bice, bright, beryl, cambridge, cerulean, cobalt, copenhagen, cornflower, cupreous, cyan, cyanotype, deep, denim, egyptian, electrix, erubescent, frost, ice, incarnadine, indigo, kyanite, lapis lazuli, midnight, navy, opal, oxford, peacock, persian, prussian, robin’s egg, royal, sapphire, saxe, sea, slate, sky, spruce, steel, teal, titian, turkish, turquoise, ultramarine, vivid


azure, blueberry, deep, glastum, indigotin, midnight, navy, prussian, ultramarine, woad, zaffre


amaranthine, amethyst, archil, berry, boysenberry, eggplant, grape, heather, heliotrope, iris, jam, lavender, lilac, mauve, magenta, mulberry, orchid, periwinkle, perse, plum, pomegranite, purple, raisin, royal, sangria, violet, violaceous, wine


allspice, auburn, bay, bran, beige, biscuit, bister, bottle, brick, brindle, bronze, brunette, buff, burnt sienna, burnt umber, cafe au lait, camel, caramel, carob, cayenne, cedar, chestnut, chocolate, cider, cinnamon, cocoa, coffee, copper, drab, dun, dust, ecru, espresso, fallow, fawn, ginger, gingerbread, granola, greige, hazel, henna, hickory, kasha, khaki, leather, liver, madiera, mahogany, mocha, mousy, mud, mushroom, nut, nutmeg, oak, oatmeal, ochre, peanut, pecan, penny, puce, russet, rust, saddle, sallow, sand, sepia, sorrel, spice, tan, taupe, tawny, terra-cotta, toast, tortilla, umber, wheaten, whey, wood


alabaster, albino, allysum, antique, ash, bone, bleach, bright, brilliant, chalk, chantilly, chiffon, cloud, coconut, cotton, daisy, dove, eggshell, gesso, ghost, putty, hoary, isabelline, ivory, lead, lace, lily, linen, lucent, milk, mother of pearl, parchment, pearl, porcelain, powder, pure, rice, salt, snow, swan, star, titanium, vanilla, whisper, winter


aluminum, argentine, ash, cinereal, charcoal, cloud, coin, cool, cove, clam, dolphin, dove, dusky, elephant, fog, fossil, frost, graphite, grizzled, gunmetal, gunpowder, harbor, hippopotamus, hoary, lead, iron, metal, mouse, neutral, nickle, oyster, payne’s, pearl, pebble, peppery, pewter, platinum, pigeon, powder, rhino, rice, sere, silver, tin, sidewalk, slate, smoke, squirrel, steel, stone, thunder, warm


atramentous, calciginous, charcoal, coal, crepuscular, crow, dusky, ebony, flint, grease, ink, kohl, lamp, lava, jet, leather, mars, melanoid, metal, midnight, obsidian, oil, onyx, piceous, pitch, raven, sable, slate, soot, spider, stygian, tartarean, tenebrous

Read more in my Color Theory resources.
Learn more in my digital photography and digital printing workshops.