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Frances Ha, by Noah Baumbach | Film Aesthetics

Though the story of Frances Ha divided those of us who saw it into fans and cynics, its gorgeous aesthetics are bound to unite us all. With whimsical lightning and exquisite use of black and white, cinematographer Sam Levy (Wendy and Lucy) gives all beauty seekers a lesson in good taste. 

To subtract colour is a route not many filmmakers take, making black and white films a rarity in modern days. We can think back to a time before technicolor and point out plenty of superb uses of this technique, and thankfully we can still do it with contemporary movies, such as Schindler’s List, The White Ribbon, Manhattan,  Ed Wood, The Man Who Wasn’t There, and even the brand new Nebraska. It can give a bold, creative feel to a film, like in Sin City, or it can be a brand of luxurious elegance, as in Good Night and Good Luck. In Frances Ha, black and white provides an intimate, particular atmosphere that matches its protagonist’s peculiar life views.

warning: long picture post ahead!

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If you’re curious about the technical aspects of shooting with a Cannon 5D, read this article. 

View Comments (10)
  • Beautiful post, Sofia. Frances Ha was among my favourite films from last year in terms of cinematography (and otherwise too). Greta Gerwig had talked about in one of those roundtables that because she has such a big, expressive face, she thought black and white would work better like it did for the comedic actors in classic films. And of course, there is the Manhattan and French New Wave feel.

    • I didn’t know that about Gerwig, it’s rather funny… but I guess it’s true, especially because there are some big close-ups. It does remind me of Manhattan and FNW too, those seem to be clear influences here. Overall a very, very beautiful film!

  • I love the movie’s visuals too! In love with black and white. a gorgeous film, in my top 10 last year. Great choice for this feature

  • I never realised how beautiful this film was, I was all to enthralled by the story! Lovely film, beautiful screencaps. Interesting to hear that it was shot with Canon 5D, never would’ve imagined. Great post, made me want to relive the film. 😉

  • Fantastic post! B&W movies are a rarity now, but this movie did wonders with no color. I wish more films were shot in B&W today.

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