Noirs et Blancs en Couleur (Black and White in Color) Reviews

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Margarita S ½ August 17, 2014
This is a movie extremely rich and ambitious in content; it thematically bursts at the seams. In his directorial debut, Annaud attempts to cover off major categories - war, race relations and religion. I'm not convinced he's been able to adequately hit the mark on all categories, but his use of satire as a device is well done.
Byron B
Super Reviewer
March 1, 2007
The recently release DVD of this film comes with the documentary The Sky Above, The Mud Below. Both were produced by well-respected Swiss producer Arthur Cohn. This was Jean-Jacques Annaud debut feature film. The soundtrack and camera work are well done. But the main attraction is the absurdly comic actions of the French colonists in Africa during the final years of WWI. The French colonists from one village have been friends with German colonists in a neighboring village. Yet, when they see an old newspaper from their homeland announcing the start of WWI, the always drunk sergeant of the colony, the two missionaries, the two brothers who run the general store with their wives, and a couple other colonists, decide to declare war on their German neighbors. The white colonists treat war like a picnic, though, as they expect the African natives to do the fighting and dying for them. A few of the African servants of the colonists make wisecracks about the absurdity of their white "masters," so the movie is not entirely in the voice of the colonists. After several botched attempts at playing war, Hubert Fresnoy (Spiesser), a young scholar, who is against the fighting at the beginning, takes command of the colony and even marries a native woman. He scandalizes the rest of the colonists, but is much more successful at leading the war efforts until a troop of British colonized Indian soldiers arrive to announce the end of the war. It turns out that Hubert and the leader of the German colony are really very similar, and the importance that the various colonists feel about their positions in this "wild" country is totally blown out of proportion.
FilmFreak93 FilmFreak93 ½ April 14, 2013
Before Jean-Jacques Annaud made such international large Hollywood epics as "Enemy at the Gates" and "Seven Years in Tibet" he made his debut in the Ivory Coast where he directed the colonial war comedy "Black and White in Color". The film is set during World War I in a french colony in Africa (which one is never mentioned) in the year of 1915, where the colonist have just received the news about a war between France and Germany, which means that the colonies are also in war with each other. So the french colonists has a real problem when their enemies are not far away, with a more experienced black army. And the French also have a hard time convincing the natives to join the fight against the Germans.

Black and White in Color is a great black comedy, because it makes fun of the French patriotism and the early views on war as something great. But on the other hand, the colonist was not so much aware of all the horrors in Europe, and also their soldiers were all Africans. While the Africans were fighting and dying, the colonist was having a picnic in the sun. And in the end it's all just a cricket match between French and Germany, who after the war rejoice that the whole conflict is finally over.

It has that same bourgeoisie feeling as a Luis Bu˝uel film. The same discreet charm, the french arrogance and the white superiority. But one of the colonist named Hubert Frensnoy, a young and promising student takes charges and starts to organize an army that can compete with the German troops. He's also a socialist, a small hint of a world in change. A great black comedy that shows us the completely different world view of that time, in such a funny way. Thumbs up.
jjb3332003 jjb3332003 ½ June 17, 2012
Having been previously impressed with any Annaud film I've seen this one was very disappointing. I felt it to be tedious and empty.
David S January 7, 2012
It's amusing throughout, even if the whole thing seems a trifle along the lines of "look at those silly white people."
Lucas K ½ February 5, 2009
the French will never surrender!

Justin D ½ June 21, 2007
Black and White in Color is a 1976 film by Jean-Jacques Annaud. It was his first full length film after a career of directing television commercials. The film is about a small group of French settlers on the Ivory Coast during World War I. They colonized the area and convert black people to Christianity and count them as French. There is also a small German settlement in the area with corresponding Germanization of some other black people. The film is roughly based on actual events of WWI. When the French outpost receives word of WWI breaking out back in Europe they feel that they must do the same in Africa, despite the fact that no one tells them to. With no orders they improvise a plan. The film is pretty hilarious in some parts. The dogma, egotism, and certainty of most of the characters that they are doing the right thing is quite laughable in much of the film. The editing and music are quite good and the character development is good too. The film won the Academy Award for best foreign language film in 1976. I think most people would like watching it.
Harlequin68 Harlequin68
Super Reviewer
½ December 21, 2005
[font=Century Gothic]"Black and White in Color" takes place in 1915 at Fort Coulais in French Equatorial Africa.(Well, it is not really a fort, more like a ramshackle trading outpost in the middle of nowhere. The commander from the nearby German colony shops there.) It is so remote that the population is unaware that World War I has even begun until a package from the home country alerts them to the fact. And what's a bunch of French patriots supposed to do now that they are at war with Germany? A preemptive attack will do nicely...[/font]
[font=Century Gothic][/font]
[font=Century Gothic]"Black and White in Color" is an amusing satire about colonialism, patriotism and racism that continues to be relevant today. The movie is populated with broadly drawn characters. And the last line is nice, but a bit puzzling.[/font]
Academock Academock April 16, 2004
Directed by Jean-Jaques Annaud
Written by Annaud and Georges Conchon
[b]Genre[/b]: Drama/War
[b]MPAA[/b]: PG
[b]Runtime[/b]: 90 minutes
[b]Plot Summary[/b]: French colonists in Africa, several months behind in the news, find themselves at war with their German neighbors. Deciding that they must do their proper duty and fight the Germans, they promptly conscript the local native population. Issuing them boots and rifles, the French attempt to make "proper" soldiers out of the Africans. - IMDB

Winning the Oscar for best foreign film, [i]Black and White in Color[/i] is a dark comedic satire on the French occupancy of West Africa. Through colonization and imperialism, they Christianized the Africans and trained them to fight in the upcoming war with Germany - even though they all thought it would be with England. As a political film, it is rich in depth; as an entertaining film, it is pretty poor. The film gives you a few simple ideas and gives yuo reason to laugh at them. Which is fine, except that this problem isn't really a laughing matter. No country should try to Christianize or Americanize (oops) other countries in which they deemed "primitive." Who has the right to claim themselves better than another?

If you like [i]Black and White in Color[/i], you might also like...
- [i]Yaaba [/i](Idrissa Ouedraogo, 1989) - The story focuses on Bila, a ten year old boy who befriends an old woman, Sana. Everybody calls her 'Witch' but Bila himself calls her 'Yaaba' (grandmother). When Bilas cousin Nopoko gets sick it is Sana's medicin who rescues her. - IMDB
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