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Monochromatic chemical processes in capturing the amount of light, processing the film, and printing it in copies are much simpler than that have to detect, separate and distinguish between different colors.
For example, the black and white film can be processed by humans in the darkroom working with the red darkroom lights without affecting the images in the film. The color film should be processed in complete darkness. This requires more or less automatic handling.
In fact, color film technology was up to WW1, and there are fragments of color film from that time. Because it is expensive and difficult to work with, it isn’t commercially possible. Technicolor’s success has largely down to the company’s ability to scale color cinematography to commercial markets.
Another very important factor is that color film usually requires a realistic approach to makeup, scenery, and design. In a monochrome film, the shade can be enhanced for dramatic effect in ways that look more ridiculous in color. This was noticeable when TV moved from black and white to color. In some TV series that appeared dangerous and realistic in black & white appeared to be lame and studio when filmed in color.
Most moviegoers still have a hatred of black and white films. Originally George Miller wanted to make his 2015 action masterpiece Mad Max: Fury Road in black & white. But, of course, this isn’t welcome by the moviegoers. A blockbuster movie like this can’t survive the box office without technicolor.
This is primarily why the theatrical version of the film is in color. But Miller says, ‘The best version of this movie is black and white, but people now reserve it for art movies’.
From German expressionism to film noir, black and white films have pushed the boundaries of film-making, as Rocket Jump Film School outlines in an incredibly in-depth analysis of style. From a technical point of view, aesthetic filmmakers have changed the way they play with texture, lighting, sets, and depth.
But, black and white changes a movie into a thematically. It offers a dream-like view of a completely different world of atmosphere, tone, and vision. This makes a film feel very real when it feels unreal.
To illustrate this, RocketJump combines scenes of color and non-color Mad Max and it’s very cool.