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Black and White in Color


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Product Details

  • Actors: Jean Carmet, Catherine Rouvel, Jacques Spiesser, Jacques Dufilho, Maurice Barrier
  • Directors: Jean-Jacques Annaud, Pierre-Dominique Gaisseau
  • Writers: Jean-Jacques Annaud, Pierre-Dominique Gaisseau, Georges Conchon
  • Producers: Arthur Cohn, Giorgio Silvagni, Jacques Perrin
  • Format: Color, Letterboxed, NTSC, Subtitled, Widescreen
  • Language: German (Unknown), English (Unknown), French (Unknown)
  • Subtitles: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: PG (Parental Guidance Suggested)
  • Studio: Homevision
  • DVD Release Date: June 24, 2003
  • Run Time: 180 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B000096I8J
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #214,723 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Black and White in Color" on IMDb

Special Features

  • Bonus Feature: The Sky Above, The Mud Below: 1961 Academy Award winning documentary produced by Arthur Cohn
  • An interview with director Jean-Jacques Annaud and Arthur Cohn
  • Producer's Perspective: A conversation with producer Arthur Cohn

Editorial Reviews

From the Back Cover

Winner of the 1976 Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film, Black and White in Color is a voracious and timely satire on racism, colonialism, and war. Set in the Ivory Coast during the First World War, a group of bungling French colonials learns that their country is at war with Germany. Spurred on by a capricious moment of patriotism, the Frenchmen decide to attack their German neighbors.

Product Description

Winner of the 1976 Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film, Black and White in Color is a voracious and timely satire on racism, colonialism, and war. Set in the Ivory Coast during the First World War, a group of bungling French colonials learns that their country is at war with Germany. Spurred on by a capricious moment of patriotism, the Frenchmen decide to attack their German neighbors. In French with English subtitles

Customer Reviews

4.2 out of 5 stars
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See all 14 customer reviews
The British troops are commanded by a man with dark skin, an Indian officer.
Mark Borowsky, M.D.
I admit that I was hoping for a bit more than I got but I am glad, after all the years, that I was finally able to see "Black and White in Color".
Randy Keehn
Few films manage to wrestle so well, with so many issues - racism, nationalism, religious hypocrisy, etc.
K. Gordon

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

17 of 17 people found the following review helpful By C. O. DeRiemer on October 4, 2006
Format: DVD
What day should be chosen to attack the Germans just up the river, ponders the French in flea-ridden Ft. Coulais, in the Ivory Coast? "You can't go wrong choosing the Lord's Day," urges one of the two priests, with the other nodding enthusiastically. Please note that elements of the plot are discussed, but nothing that also isn't mentioned on the back-cover of the case and in the accompanying insert

Black and White in Color tells the story of a motley group of Frenchmen, including a few shopkeepers, at a colonial outpost in Africa who learn belatedly that World War I is underway. Since a German outpost, with three Germans, is just a few miles away, La Gloire and honor dictate an attack. Of course, the real fighting will be done by hastily recruited natives on both sides. The fort's young teacher, Hubert Fresnoy (Jacques Spieser) had heard that there is a sensible German and says he wants to try to negotiate. With La Gloire, that would be impossible. The shopkeepers demand French honor be sustained with an immediate attack on the Germans with whom they'd been trading (and unknowingly sharing their wives) just days before.

And off they go. The shopkeepers, two priests and two wives are carried in palanquins by natives. The hastily recruited and untrained native soldiers are armed with old rifles and some slightly damp powder. They're led by the tired and realistic Sergeant Bosselet (Jean Carmet) only three years from retirement. The teacher reluctantly tags along. And they all -- well, the whites -- stop for a picnic just before the battle starts. War, they appreciate, can be great fun as well as a source of great pride. Unfortunately, the Germans have machine guns.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Randy Keehn VINE VOICE on February 11, 2006
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
When "Black and White in Color" won the 1976 Best Foreign Language Movie Oscar, I made a mental note to see it some day. I eventually bought the DVD in order to do so. What captured my attention was that it was a film from the Ivory Coast. I don't know if they ever hit the charts again. Indeed, this comes across as a European product but I will leave the credit to some Ivory Coaster with a French name.

It is a satire on colonialism and, generally does well in that arena. The synopsis is that WWI breaks out in Europe and the word reaches the small enclaves of French and German neighboring territories in equatorial Africa. Each of the two colonies involved seems to have less than 10 actual French of Germans in their midst. It would have been easy enough to say "To heck with the war, we'll sit this one out". But no, someone gets the idea to act quickly and take over the other. What to use for troops? Well, that's where the native Africans come in. By playing out this story with such small numbers, the director/writer Jean J. Annaud is able to demonstrate the obvious; the victimization of the aboriginals in an event they have no stake in. This is well-coupled with the apparent oblivious attitude of the Europeans who give themselves all credit for success, when it occurs.

I admit that I was hoping for a bit more than I got but I am glad, after all the years, that I was finally able to see "Black and White in Color". There are a lot of great foreign language movies out there and this is certainly one that's worth the price of admission.
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11 of 13 people found the following review helpful By John H. Davis on September 14, 2004
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
I first saw this on the big screen when I was a university student. It starts by showing that the French colonists totally misunderstand not only the local language but also the local culture and their relationship to the local people. Then the movie depicts the facical nature of some of the proselytizing. When the news comes of the war and the colonists decide to attack their erstwhile colleague, the German who buys/bought supplies from them, they turn to a young man and ask him to be their military leader. After they get him to agree, they are shocked that he seems to respect the local tribesmen as much as he does them, his white countrymen. After the news comes that the war is over, the young French commander and the young German commander walk along together, talking of their previous lives -- and the viewer realizes that they are in effect the same person, the young man thrust forward into the folly of war by his unthinking countrymen. In order to better understand the theater of war, a potential viewer might wish to look at some maps of the political boundaries in Africa before The Great War. This setting for this movie is equatorial region of the continent of Africa, not the country of South Africa.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Mark Borowsky, M.D. on June 8, 2013
Format: DVD
Many of the above reviews contain well made points about the film, which I will attempt to consolidate and put into perspective. Perhaps the first observation that the film makes is that times of crisis, when one lives with both real and imagined threats to one's existence, as an individual, and as a community or society, tend at the same time to bring out both the worst, and the best in us, as human beings. One also tends to question the assumptions under which one had lived previously, that have allowed such a crisis to emerge. Many people and institutions are rightly targeted for satire. 1) The premises of colonialism which imply a technological, military, and ethical superiority of the colonizers over the colonized. 2) The hypocrisy of the Church and its representatives who are among the most odious of the characters in the film. 3) The " natives " who collaborate with their colonizers. 4) The casual and irresponsible attitude that non combatants take to a war ( among them the romantic visions of heroism on the battlefield which in this case succesfully seduce the colonists to wish for a fight), and who are then rudely awakened to the many unintended and unexpected brutal consqequences to which a rash and foolish decision to commence hostilities has lead. In the end though, perhaps the cruelest irony of this experience for the French colonists occurs at the end of the film. After nearly 4 years of a miserable existence, they are liberated by a platoon of colonial troops led by their British allies, who now rule the adjacent, previously German colony. The British troops are commanded by a man with dark skin, an Indian officer.Read more ›
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