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Guillermo del Toro’s noir ‘Nightmare Alley’ gets black and white release

It makes total sense for a genre of this sort to get the monochromatic treatment since the word 'noir' is French for black.
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With prolific horror and fantasy director Guillermo del Toro’s forthcoming Nightmare Alley being touted as a modern noir — and sans his typical supernatural elements — it shouldn’t surprise fans of the genre that the auteur is going to release a black-and-white version of the film for a limited theatrical run.

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While the in-color version of the film hits theaters this weekend, it was announced Friday by Searchlight Pictures the black-and-white version, dubbed Nightmare Alley: Vision in Darkness and Light, will be coming to select cinemas across Los Angeles in January of next year, Variety reports.

It makes total sense for a genre of this sort, which originated with German Expressionist-influence stylized crime dramas in the U.S. in the 1940s, to get the monochromatic treatment since the word “noir” is literally French for “black,” as in black-and-white cinematography. (The word also refers, of course, to the darker subject matter of the genre.)

A black and white version of the film would also be an appropriate reflection of the dark path and moral corruption that its main character, Bradley Cooper’s Stanton Carlisle, goes through in the pursuit of wealth and influence.

“Although we shot ‘Nightmare Alley’ in color, we lit it as if it were black and white,” del Toro revealed. “You can see exactly the same level of design, and we wanted to give viewers this special vantage as a take of the classic noir genre that the film is part of.”

If you’re in the L.A. area, you can catch the black and white version of the film at the following locations, days and times:

  • The New Beverly Cinema on Jan. 15 and Jan. 16
  • AMC The Grove from Jan. 14 through Jan. 20
  • The Landmark from Jan. 14 through Jan. 20
  • The Los Feliz Theater, American Cinematheque, from Jan. 21 through Jan. 23.

If you don’t live in L.A. or would rather see the movie sooner, you can catch the color version of Nightmare Alley beginning Friday at a theater near you.

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Danny Peterson
Danny Peterson covers entertainment news for WGTC and has previously enjoyed writing about housing, homelessness, the coronavirus pandemic, historic 2020 Oregon wildfires, and racial justice protests. Originally from Juneau, Alaska, Danny received his Bachelor's degree in English Literature from the University of Alaska Southeast and a Master's in Multimedia Journalism from the University of Oregon. He has written for The Portland Observer, worked as a digital enterprise reporter at KOIN 6 News, and is the co-producer of the award-winning documentary 'Escape from Eagle Creek.'