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Black & White in Color [VHS]

4.3 out of 5 stars 15 customer reviews


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Product Details

  • Actors: Jean Carmet, Catherine Rouvel, Jacques Spiesser, Jacques Dufilho, Maurice Barrier
  • Directors: Jean-Jacques Annaud
  • Writers: Jean-Jacques Annaud, Georges Conchon
  • Producers: Arthur Cohn, Giorgio Silvagni, Jacques Perrin
  • Format: NTSC
  • Rated:
    PG
    Parental Guidance Suggested
  • Number of tapes: 1
  • Studio: Warner Home Video
  • VHS Release Date: March 30, 1988
  • Run Time: 90 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: 6301651502
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #359,023 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By C. O. DeRiemer TOP 1000 REVIEWER 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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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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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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