creature feature saturday: return of the fly (edward bernds, 1959)
the modern world, kaiser edition

mad max fury road: black & chrome edition (george miller, 2016)

There's no denying it: I thought Mad Max: Fury Road was a great movie. I gave it 10/10, which I rarely do for new movies. I had gone to see it in the theater on opening night, which is another rarity for me, but hey, I was excited. This also explains why I was intrigued by the "Black & Chrome" version of the film.

Miller wanted Fury Road to be in black and white, but the studio wasn't paying all of that money for what would look like an "art film". Miller returned to his idea after Fury Road made a lot of money and won six Oscars. Now, you can get Blu-rays with both versions, which is how I ended up watching Black & Chrome.

I've already had my say about Fury Road, and I saw little to change my mind in this viewing, so I'll address the ways the B&W approach made a difference. It's Miller who said B&W is relegated to "art films", and he notes that he saturated Fury Road with colors partly to counteract the tendency for post-apocalyptic films to look drained of color. So what was going to be B&W became instead super-colored. Still, Miller claims Black & Chrome is his preferred version, which if nothing else makes this quite the unique "director's cut".

I have to admit, Black & Chrome did look more like an art film than did Fury Road. But the most noteworthy thing was that after ten or so minutes, I completely forgot I was looking at something different. The revved-up appeal of the movie overwhelmed my capacity to "see" the black-and-white, and only occasionally did I catch myself thinking "hey, this version is different". Yes, Furiosa was powerfully ominous, but she was powerful in the color version.

Fury Road is such a great movie that even a drastic step like removing the color only results in a different great movie. It doesn't detract from the original, but I'm not convinced Black & Chrome is the final word. I feel certain that if I were to show the movie to a newcomer, I'd use the color version. Once again, though, 10/10. (The original is #87 on the They Shoot Pictures, Don't They list of the top 1000 films of the 21st century.)

Here is a comparison of the two versions:

 

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